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Written Answers

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 3 March 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 3rd March, 1949

Handicapped Persons (Advisory Council)


asked the Minister of Health who are the members of the Advisory Council on the Welfare of Handicapped Persons appointed under the National Assistance Act.

Lord Rushcliffe has kindly consented to be Chairman; following is the list of members:

  • The Right Honourable the Lord Rushcliffe, G.B.E. (Chairman).
  • Edward Evans, Esquire, M.P. (Vice-Chairman).
  • Fraser Brockington, Esquire, M.A., M.D., D.P.H.
  • Alderman Mrs. Kathleen Chambers, J.P.
  • J. Rhaiadr Jones, Esquire.
  • K. P. McDougall, Esquire.
  • Councillor Miss May O'Conor.
  • Sir Geoffrey Peto, K.B.E.
  • The Honourable Dorothy Pickford.
  • Councillor Douglas A. G. Prichard.
  • Godfrey Robinson. Esquire, M.C.
  • Councillor G. H. Round, J.P.
  • W. H. Snowdon, Esquire, M.A.
  • Alderman Mrs. G. Tebbutt.
  • S. Weaver, Esquire.

National Health Service

Tuberculosis Beds


asked the Minister of Health how many tuberculosis beds there are in the United Kingdom; and whether he has been able to make an assessment of the number of patients awaiting admission to sanatoria.

On the latest figures available for England and Wales there are approximately 33,000 tuberculosis beds, and a waiting list of about 9,000. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that the figures for Scotland are 6,554 and 2,721 respectively.


asked the Minister of Health what improvement he expects in the number of tuberculosis beds in the United Kingdom during the next 12 months.

This will depend on how far we can make good the shortage of nurses. In the past year there has been an increase of about 12 per cent. in tuberculosis nurses, and I hope our recruiting efforts will continue to effect a steady improvement.

Hearing Aids


asked the Minister of Health if he will consider establishing at Bangor or some other convenient point in north-west Wales a centre at which deaf people can be examined to determine whether they would benefit by the use of hearing aids.

A diagnostic clinic and distribution centre for hearing aids is to be opened at Bangor shortly.

Blood Donors


asked the Minister of Health what special recognition is given to blood donors.

New Towns (Building Licences)


asked the Minister of Health what authority will have the right to allocate private building licences on the basis of one to every four houses built in a new town.

Local Government Act, 1948

asked the Minister of Health whether he is now able to fix definitely the appointed day of Part III of the Local Government Act, 1948, under Section 72 thereof.

Water Supply, Bullingdon


asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied with the detailed plans for the Bullingdon Rural District Council water scheme supplied by the Oxford Corporation statutory water undertaking in November, 1948, to his priority committee; and when that committee is likely to give a decision on the matter.

The detailed plans were supplied in connection with applications for an order under the Water Act, and for sanction to a loan which will shortly be made by the Oxford Corporation. There is no priority committee for considering such cases.


Classes (Size)


asked the Minister of Education what is the number of primary school classes with more than 40 children; how long he estimates it will take at the present rate of progress to reduce all these classes to 40 children; and whether he can give an assurance that it is his policy to place primary schools on a level with secondary schools so far as the number in a class is concerned.

There were 32,925 such classes in January, 1948, the latest date for which figures are available. It is my policy to get the size of classes, particularly in primary schools, reduced as quickly as the necessary teachers and buildings can be made available. Lack of buildings and teachers is the sole reason for the present difference between the maximum sizes of class prescribed for primary and secondary schools respectively.

asked the Minister of Education what is the number of classes in primary and secondary schools respectively with over fifty, over forty and over thirty pupils, at the latest convenient date.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. C. Smith) on the 25th January.

Training Colleges (Students)


asked the Minister of Education approximately how many men and women students there are in emergency training colleges and ordinary training colleges, respectively; how many have been accepted for training this year and for subsequent years; and how long he anticipates the emergency training colleges will continue.

There are now about 6,200 men and 4,450 women in emergency training colleges, about 4,400 men and 12,700 women in two-year and house-craft teacher training colleges, and about 1,400 men and 1,200 women taking postgraduate courses in University training departments. I cannot yet say how many students will be accepted for training this year or in later years, but in the two-year and housecraft colleges the number of places available for women this year will be at least 1,000 more than last year. The last emergency training courses will end some time in 1951, but a number of the colleges will be continued as ordinary training colleges.

Welsh Joint Committee (Report)

asked the Minister of Education if he will arrange for a report of the activity of the Welsh Joint Education Committee to be included in the annual White Paper on Government activity in Wales and Monmouthshire.

I will do my best to arrange for a report of the activities of the Welsh Joint Education Committee to be included in the annual White Paper on Government activity in Wales and Monmouthshire, or in the Annual Report of the Ministry of Education.


Government Service (Appointments)


asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to what extent consultation has taken place with the Union of South Africa Government in respect of appointments to any branch of the official staff in Basutoland; and how many of that staff are citizens of the Union.

As a rule, the Government of the Union of South Africa are not consulted about appointments to the Government service in Basutoland. The number of European officers in the Territory who are citizens of the Union is 159.

Ritual Murders (Appeals)


asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many of the Basuto prisoners, condemned for ritual murder, have appealed to the Privy Council; and, in view of the fact that no appeal is permitted in Basutoland, if he will undertake to have these cases reviewed and, if necessary, an inquiry held.

Four cases of ritual murder have recently been tried in the High Court of Basutoland, in which 37 prisoners were involved. Thirty-three of them have so far given notice that they will ask for leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee; the others may do so, if they so desire. I am now considering the general question of providing a Court of Appeal for the High Commission Territories.


Hospital, Newmarket (Foreign Workers)


asked the Minister of Labour why a large number of displaced persons and Poles have been placed on the staff at White Lodge Hospital, Newmarket, when there are a number of ex-Service men and women in the district who have no employment.

Foreign workers have not been placed in this employment to the exclusion of any suitable and available British workers. There are still vacancies and any suitable British candidates will be submitted for them before they are offered to foreign workers.

Industrial Hostels


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will permit married quarters to be provided in Government industrial hostels for European voluntary workers, in view of the fact that female workers are turned out of the hostels when their pregnancy is too advanced for them to continue working and are normally unable to obtain lodgings locally, with the result that they suffer great hardship and their services become lost to industry.

No. The Government industrial hostels are designed to accommodate transferred industrial workers and do not provide suitable accommodation for mothers with young children.

National Finance

Poultry Equipment, Gambia


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the fact that suitable poultry equipment is available in Britain for export he will refuse any further applications by the Colonial Development Corporation for dollars to purchase similar American equipment for use in the Gambia.

The availability of suitable equipment from the United Kingdom is taken into account by the Treasury as a matter of course before authorising the expenditure of dollars.

Foreign Currency (Application)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why Mr. Moss, Chief Secretary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Mr. Rogers, Chief Inspector of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, were refused currency early this year to enable them to visit slaughterhouses in Belgium and examine conditions under which British horses are exported.

The application was considered in the ordinary way by the Exchange Control authorities who did not consider that the circumstances were such as to justify the provision of foreign exchange for the purpose.

American Relief Goods

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is now possible to obtain reimbursement of transportation costs for relief goods as provided for in the Exchange of Notes between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States on the Duty-Free Treatment of American Relief Goods, Command Paper No. 7583.

Yes. An organisation has been set up in the Ministry of Food for dealing with such claims. A circular explaining which claims qualify for reimbursement and how to present claims is available on application to: The Finance Director, Transport (Finance), Ministry of Food, 5, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W.1.

Coal Industry

Opencast Site, Winstanley Hall


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he has taken to ensure that no typhoid carriers are employed on the Winstanley Hall Opencast No. 3 site, in view of the fact that water from this site is percolating through to and contaminating the catchment area of the Ashton-in-Makerfield waterworks.

I am advised that as the contour of the land slopes away from the catchment area of the Ashton-in-Makerfield waterworks there is no possibility of contamination by percolation from the Winstanley Hall No. 3A Opencast Site.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what total tonnage of opencast coal he expects to obtain from the Winstanley Hall Opencast No. 3 site; and what will be the average cost per ton.

The Winstanley Hall Opencast No. 3 site is no longer worked. The site to which the hon. Gentleman refers is no doubt No. 3A which is expected to produce 123,000 tons. As regards the last part of the Question, it is contrary to normal practice to disclose the contract price for the working of particular opencast sites.

Distribution (Northern Ireland)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the cause of the present shortage of coal in Londonderry; and what steps he is taking to prevent a recurrence of this situation.

My right hon. Friend is responsible for the allocation of coal to Northern Ireland and no complaints have been received about this. The distribution of this coal within Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland Ministry of Commerce.

Collieries (Statement Of Interests)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what was the statement of interests presented, after vesting date, to the Valuation Board on behalf of the following collieries in Lanarkshire, Bothwell Castle, Nos. 1 and 2 Pits, and Thankerton, Nos. 1, 3 and 6 Pits.

Under Section 56 of the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, I am precluded from disclosing the details contained in the statements of interests made by individual collieries. Under S.R. & O. 1574 of 1946, colliery concerns are required to send these statements to the Minister and the National Coal Board, not to a Valuation Board.

Domestic Supplies, Oldham

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what has been the result of his investigations into the large number of complaints from Oldham about the quality of coal being supplied.

I am not aware that there has been any abnormal number of complaints about the quality of coal being supplied in Oldham. I have written to my hon. Friend about the complaints which he brought to my notice.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the source of supplies of coal being sent to Oldham, and in particular to the Oldham Industrial and the Oldham Equitable Co-operative Societies; and whether he is satisfied that there are adequate screening facilities at the source of supply.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that house coal supplies to Oldham are drawn from 24 different collieries or colliery groups and the two Co-operative Societies receive supplies from 12 of these. In addition, opencast coal is supplied both to the Societies and to other coal distributors in the district. All coal supplied against merchants' allocations for the house coal market is screened, and I am advised by the Board that the screening facilities at the colliery sources of supply for Oldham are reasonably satisfactory.

Horses And Ponies

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the average number of working years of the horses used below ground in the mines of South Wales; and the average working life of the ponies employed in Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire, for the past ten years.

I regret that the information available is insufficient to enable a reliable estimate to be made.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will make a regulation pursuant to the Coal Mines Act, 1911, in order to provide horses and ponies employed continuously below ground in mines with a month's rest on the surface every year or in every alternate year.

Great care is taken under the strictest supervision to ensure that horses employed in coal mines are not overworked and I do not think that the proposed regulation is either necessary or desirable.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that four old pit ponies who were destroyed at Lambley, Northumberland, were all over 20 years of age; how many years over 20, respectively, these four ponies were when taken up; and whether he is satisfied that ponies over the age of 15 years should be employed below ground in mines.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that the four ponies recently withdrawn from underground work at Lambley Colliery and destroyed were aged 21, 22, 25 and 29 years, respectively. I do not consider it desirable to impose a rigid age limit for horses and ponies employed in mines. The physical condition of each animal should be the deciding factor. Although no exact figures are available, the normal age at which ponies are withdrawn from underground work is estimated by the National Coal Board to be about 15 years but in the experience of His Majesty's Inspectors of Mines many ponies over the age of 15 years are well up to the work and may be safer than younger animals.

National Insurance

Self-Employed Persons


asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is aware that a self-employed small farmer recently lost three fingers and part of his right hand in an accident with a circular saw he was operating; that he receives no compensation nor the full increased rate of benefit that goes to an employed man under the National Health Insurance Act; and, in view of the correspondence sent to him, if he will introduce legislation to amend the Act to include self-employed people.

I have seen a Press report on the case to which the hon. Member refers. The possibility of extending the Industrial Injuries scheme to self-employed persons was examined very fully during the passage of the Bill and it was generally recognised that it was not practicable to include them.

Personal Cases


asked the Minister of National Insurance if he has considered the details which have been sent him concerning Mr. B. L. Wallace of 24, Hyland Close, Hornchurch, Romford, Essex, and Mr. le Page, of 2s, Grays Farm Road, St. Pauls Cray, Kent, who have been unable to obtain benefit after an accident; and if he will explain the cause of the delay and the discourteous treatment meted out to Mr. Wallace.

Inquiries into these cases are in hand, and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Colonial House, Whitechapel (Gaming)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why Colonial House, 17 Leman Street, White-chapel, was raided by the police on 29th January last; how many men were arrested and on what charges; and how many were remanded.

Observation of the premises by the police had shown that they were being used as a common gaming house and an order under Section 6 of the Gaming Act, 1845, was executed. Games of cards, dice and pitch-and-toss for money were found to be in progress: two persons were charged as principals with keeping a common gaming house, and 47 others as frequenters. The two principals were remanded and later fined £5 and £2 10s. respectively, and ordered to pay three guineas costs each.

Sparking Plug Insulators

74 and 75.

asked the Minister of Supply (1), what is the estimated demand for sparking plug insulators in this country; and what is the present capacity of the industry;(2) what firms are expanding their capacity to produce sparking plug insulators in this country.

The estimated demand for sparking plug insulators is 25,000,000 a year. The present capacity is estimated to be 18,000,000 a year. I regret that it would not be proper for me to disclose information about the expansion of capacity which is supplied by manufacturers in confidence.

Swans (Protection)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which authorities have made regulations under the Wild Birds (Protection) Acts, with reference to swans and, in view of the large number that are now being killed and used for human consumption, if he will recommend to all local authorities the exercising of local regulations for their protection.

I give below a list of the local authorities who have in various ways extended by Wild Birds Protection Orders the protection afforded to swans under the Wild Birds Protection Acts. As regards the last part of the Question, I would refer to the answer which I gave my hon. Friend the Member for South Derby (Mr. Champion) on 14th February.

Following is the list:


Administrative Counties:

GlamorganEast Suffolk
HuntingdonWest Suffolk

County Boroughs:

BlackpoolEast Ham
BournemouthWest Ham

LiverpoolSaint Helens


(1) Seasons 1st February to 11th August:

Administrative Counties:

DenbighSoke of Peterborough
Isle of ElyEast Sussex
GloucesterWest Sussex


Isle of Wight


*East Riding, Yorks.

Kesteven, Lincs.

*North Riding, Yorks.

County Boroughs:




HastingsWest Hartlepool

(2) Various extended seasons:

Administrative Counties:

  • Surrey: 31st January-1st September
  • Wiltshire: 31st January-1st September
  • West Riding, Yorks.: Last day of February-12th August

County Boroughs:

  • Barrow in Furness: 1st February-31st August
  • Birmingham: 1st March-31st August
  • Bradford: Last day of February-12th August
  • Burton upon Trent: Last day of February-13th August
  • Halifax: Last day of February-12th August
  • Huddersfield: Last day of February-12th August
  • Leeds: Last day of February-12th August
  • Oldham: 1st March-31st August
  • Rochdale: Last day of February-1st September
  • Stockport: 1st March-13th August
  • Wakefield: Last day of February-12th August
  • West Bromwich: Last day of February-13th August
  • Wolverhampton: 1st March-12th August


Administrative Counties:

  • Berkshire
  • Buckingham
  • Caernarvon
  • Chester, and Christmas day
  • Denbigh
  • Derby, and Christmas day
  • Durham, and Christmas day
  • Isle of Ely
  • Gloucester
  • Hertford, and Christmas day
  • Lancaster, and Christmas day
  • Merioneth, and Christmas day
  • Norfolk
  • Northumberland, and Christmas day
  • Soke of Peterborough

* Swans (as well as all wild birds) are protected for all the year in certain areas of the county or county borough marked with an asterisk, and also in certain areas of Berkshire and Dorset.

  • Southampton, and Christmas day
  • Stafford
  • Surrey
  • East Sussex
  • West Sussex
  • Warwick, in certain areas
  • Isle of Wight, and Christmas day
  • Wiltshire, and Christmas day
  • East Riding, Yorks., and Christmas day
  • North Riding, Yorks., and Christmas day
  • West Riding, Yorks.

County Boroughs:

  • Barrow in Furness, and Christmas day
  • Bath
  • Birmingham, and Christmas day and Bank Holidays
  • Blackburn, and Christmas day
  • Bournemouth, and Christmas day
  • Burnley, and Christmas day
  • Burton upon Trent
  • Coventry
  • Darlington, and Christmas day
  • Eastbourne
  • Gloucester
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Halifax
  • Hastings, and Christmas day
  • Leeds
  • Norwich
  • Oldham, and Christmas day and Bank Holidays
  • Portsmouth, and Christmas day
  • Reading
  • Rochdale, and Christmas day
  • Salford, and Christmas day
  • Smethwick, and Christmas day
  • Southport, and Christmas day
  • Sunderland, and Christmas day
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • West Hartlepool, and Christmas day

Petrol Stations (Committ'ee's Report)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has considered the report of the committee under the chairmanship of Lord Waleran which was set up to inquire into the design, location and distribution of petrol filling stations; whether this report will be published; and what action he proposes to take with regard to the report.

My right hon. Friend has just received and is about to consider this report and the action to be taken on it, including the question of publication, in consultation with some of his colleagues who are also concerned.