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Written Answers

Volume 462: debated on Monday 7 March 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 7th March, 1949

Ministry Of Supply

Steel Wire, South Wales

3 and 4.

asked the Minister of Supply (1) the tonnage of wire produced in this country at present for the purpose of manufacturing steel-mesh reinforcement for concrete; and what percentage of this tonnage is being sent to the mesh makers in the South Wales area;(2) what tonnage of billets and Wire rod will be imported during 1949 for the purpose of increasing our production of wire for mesh-making; and what percentage of this tonnage is being accredited to mesh-makers in the South Wales area.

Steel wire reinforcement mesh is not subject to distribution control and wire is not specifically allocated for its production. Manufacturers obtain their supplies of wire direct from the producers and I have no information about the quantity purchased by firms in any one area. Imported billets and wire rods are used to increase the production of wire and re-rolled products generally and are not allocated for the production of wire for a particular purpose.

Depots (Workers' Travel Schemes)

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is now in a position to make further report about the daily transportation of workers from Wales into his Department's depot at Pontrilas, Herefordshire, in view of the fact that there are local men prepared to do the work.

Three months' notice is being given of the withdrawal of assisted travel schemes for workpeople at a number of Ministry of Supply establishments, including the depot at Pontrilas.

Ministry Of Works

Requisitioned Houses, Manchester

9.

asked the Minister of Works how many residential properties in the Manchester City area were derequisitioned in 1948; and how many are still requisitioned and by which Departments.

Three residential properties in the Manchester City area were released by Departments in 1948, including one small house which was taken over by the Ministry of Health for housing purposes. Two small houses and eight large houses are still held by my Ministry under requisition; one large house is held by the Air Ministry and one large house by the War Department.

Factory Extensions

asked the Minister of Works how many applications were made to, and approved by, his Department for licences for factory extensions of less than 5,000 square feet between the end of the war and 30th November, 1948.

Roumanian Legation, London

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for what reasons a request has been made to the Roumanian Government for the withdrawal of two members of the staff of the Roumanian Legation in London.

My right hon. Friend demanded the recall of two members of the Roumanian Legation in London as a result of the action of the Roumanian Government in requesting last December the recall of two members of His Majesty's Legation at Bucharest. The Roumanian Government alleged, without justification, that the two members of the British Mission in Bucharest had been engaged in espionage. My right hon. Friend deplores the necessity for the steps taken, but trusts that the Roumanian Government will realise that the provocative acts to which they have had recourse are not conducive to the establishment of good relations.

Food Supplies

Chocolate Easter Eggs

34.

asked the Minister of Food if he will release chocolate Easter eggs from the ration two weeks before the general derationing of sweets clue on 25th April.

We need to build up stocks to meet the initial demand and I am afraid that 24th April, which is the end of a four-week ration period, is the earliest date on which we can deration any sweets, including Easter eggs.

Milk (Retailers' Margins)

44.

asked the Minister of Food what additions have been made since 1st May, 1948, to the retailers' margins for liquid milk; and what is the estimated cost of these additions for the present financial year.

The margins for milk retailers in England and Wales were increased by ⅜d. per gallon on 1st October, 1948, except in the London area, where the increase was ⅛d. per gallon. For the present financial year to 31st March, 1949, the cost is estimated to be about £800,000.

Cheese (Allocations)

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements are made for the allocation of cheese produced in the United Kingdom; whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in the industrial areas of the West Riding of Yorkshire that Cheshire cheese and other home-produced cheeses are rarely made available through the domestic ration; and whether he will arrange for such supplies to be increased in that area.

It is our normal practice to allocate home-produced cheese to areas within reasonable distance of the points of production. Under this arrangement the quantity of cheese, including Cheshire cheese, allocated to the West Riding of Yorkshire is larger than the average for the country as a whole and I have not before heard of any dissatisfaction there. Supplies of home-produced cheese fall off during the winter season but will be improving again during the next few months.

Staff Reduction

asked the Minister of Food if he will state in convenient salary groups the number of cuts of staff in his Department which will result from the abolition of sweet rationing.

Most of the 400 staff who will go are temporary clerks, men and women, earning 76s. to 126s. per week. About a dozen executive staff may also be released in the group earning from £210 to £575 per annum.

Shipping

Repairs, Foreign Ports

65.

asked the Minister of Transport how many ships owned by British companies have been sent abroad for repairs, and what is the cost involved; and what is the reason for this policy in view of unemployment in British ship repair yards.

Apart from voyage repairs and from running repairs only 24 ships have, since September, 1947, been permitted to carry out repairs in foreign ports. This is an insignificant proportion of the total repair work and permission was given because facilities, including materials and dry docks, were not immediately available in this country. The cost of the repair of these 24 ships was £690,000.

Kessock Ferry, Inverness

68.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the unsatisfactory transport facilities at Kessock Ferry, linking Inverness with the Black Isle area in Rossshire; and whether he intends to take any action to improve this unsatisfactory service.

Responsibility for this ferry rests with the Inverness Burgh and the Ross and Cromarty County Councils, who jointly own and operate it. My right hon. Friend has powers to make a grant from the Road Fund towards the cost of any improvement if the ferry is freed from tolls.

Panama Register (Transfers)

69 and 71.

asked the Minister of Transport (1) the names and tonnage of British ships which have been transferred to the Panama Register during the past month;(2) the names and total tonnage of British ships sold and transferred to the Panama Register since the war.

The total tonnage of shipping transferred from the United Kingdom to the Panamanian registry since the war is 135,907 gross tons, most of which was very old tonnage. This includes three vessels—the "Granlake," "Granview" and the "Anion"—which were transferred last month. I propose to circulate the names of all the ships concerned in HANSARD.

VESSELS FOR WHICH SANCTION FOR TRANSFER TO PANAMA REGISTER HAS BEEN GRANTED
1946
"Misoa""Manchester Exporter"
"Bachaquero""Victoria Peak"
"Tasajera""Earl of Zetland II"
"Fleswick""Walroy"
"Kylegorm""Kylemount"
"Chant 52""Petrella"
"Bondicar""Bison"
"Lochnagar""Ashridge"
"Haldon"
1947
"Knight Templar""Baxtergate"
"Barrgrove""Speedfast"
"Helmond""Taisham Peak"
"Clanquhoun""Clan MacBrayne"
"Kenfig Pool"
1948
"Anton H""Burma"
"Empire Cougar""Marella"
"Empire Prover""Cananova"
"Empire Thames""San Eduardo"
1949
"Pachesham""Granview"
"Granlake""Voco"
"Arion"
Total gross tonnage 135,907.

Mercantile Marine (Displaced Persons)

asked the Minister of Transport how many displaced persons, including ex-enemies, are employed in the Merchant Navy, including those merchant ships which are on charter to various Government Departments.

The number of displaced persons is about 400. They are employed in the Estonian and Latvian ships which were transferred to the British flag during or after the war. In addition, about 450 former members of the Polish Resettlement Corps have been accepted for service in the Merchant Navy. There are no ex-enemy nationals employed in British ships trading from the United Kingdom.

Roads

Safety Committees

66.

asked the Minister of Transport why he insists that an officer of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents be appointed on road safety committees set up by district councils.

Because these experienced officers can assist greatly in the organisation and conduct of local safety activities, which are aided by grant from the Road Fund.

Crofter Counties Scheme

67.

asked the Minister of Transport how many miles of road, comprised in the Crofter Counties Scheme, remain to be dealt with; the mileage required to be completed in individual counties; and whether he is satisfied that the work is being carried out without undue delay.

Six hundred and eighty-one miles remain to be dealt with, comprising 214 miles in Argyll, four in Caithness, 227 in Inverness, 106 in Ross and Cromarty, 126 in Sutherland and four in Orkney. The work is being carried out as quickly as economic conditions permit, and has already begun or will soon start on a further 80 miles of road.

Junction, Harrow (Traffic Lights)

70.

asked the Minister of Transport whether his attention has been directed to accidents occurring at the junction of Kenton Lane, Christchurch Avenue and Streatfield Road in the urban district of Harrow; and if he will hold an inquiry into the possibility of installing traffic lights at this spot.

My information is that there has been one accident involving personal injury at this junction during the past six months. The question whether traffic lights are desirable here has already been considered but I will review the matter.

Motor Cars (Hire Purchase)

72.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the dangers attached to transactions in motor cars, which are subject to hire purchase agreements, he will consider what steps can be taken to make the entry of such transactions compulsory in registration books.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 2nd February, 1949, to a similar suggestion by the hon. and gallant Member for Norfolk, Eastern (Brigadier Medlicott).

Electricity Supplies (Rural Areas)

73.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is satisfied with the present rate of progress in extending electricity supplies to farms; and what steps he is taking to obtain a higher priority for the provision of electricity for agricultural purposes.

It is the duty of the area electricity boards to secure, so far as is practicable, the development and extension to rural areas of supplies of electricity. Owing to the shortage of generating capacity and the limited supply of labour and materials available, it is not possible at present to supply electricity to all who want it, but I have asked the area electricity boards to give priority to farms and farm workers' cottages in cases where the county agricultural executive committees certify that the installation of electricity will assist increased food production. I am satisfied that the best possible progress is being made in supplying electricity to farms.

Coal Mining Operations, Billinge

74.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the estimated loss of deep mined coal caused by the cessation of work in the Sumner's Hall Mine, Billinge, when rock blasting is taking place at the Winstanley Hall, Opencast No. 3A site immediately above.

Fuel And Power (Correspondence)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the reason for the delay in answering the letter from the junior Member for Oldham, dated 25th January, 1949.

The reasons for the delay were explained in the letter I sent my hon. Friend on 2nd March.

National Finance

Nationalised Industries (Value)

75.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the value of the industries nationalised since 1945; and the percentage of this figure to the total value of industry in terms of capital investment.

The answer to the first part of the Question in terms of the compensation paid or due to be paid is approximately £1,675 million. The information is not available for calculating the answer to the second part.

Official Cars (Use)

77.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the trivial nature of many of the journeys undertaken by cars of the official car service on repayment, he will restrict repayment journeys to important and urgent private business for which alternative transport is not available.

No. The need for restricting the use, on repayment, of official cars for non-official purposes is well understood, and I see no reason to interfere with the discretion of those Ministers of Cabinet rank who are entitled to use them.

London Docks (Registered Workers)

79.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will publish figures showing month by month for the last three years, the numbers of men registering but not employed in the London docks.

AVERAGE NUMBER OF REGISTERED DOCK WORKERS PROVING ATTENDANCF DAILY AT LONDON DOCKS
194619471948
Number of menPer cent. of registerNumber of menPer cent. of registerNumber of menPer cent. of register
January8522·92230·84461·6
February1,4695·02600·91,6145·4
March3,13110·51,2114·52,4728·5
April2,6939·11,8987·02,8189·8
May3,15510·78893·23,59912·5
June1,3734·68313·02,0877·3
July2,6849·02871·01,4085·0
August2,4178·13911·41,9447·0
September2,1797·36412·33,40812·3
October3,47511·82,2177·94,34815·8
November3,04510·61,5615·63,37712·3
December9773·62791·01,5025·5
Average For Year2,3047·9 per cent.8893·7 per cent.2,4178·6 per cent.

Police, Lewisham (Strength)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how far below strength is the police force in the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham.

Lewisham falls within two separate Divisions of the Metropolitan Police. The police strength in the borough is estimated to be 109 below the calculated establishment of 503.

Murder Convictions

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons convicted of murder in England and Wales were executed; and how many reprieved during 1948.

Following is the information:

Number of persons convicted of murder in England and Wales in 194838
Number of persons executed (including two who were convicted in 1948 but executed in 1949)8
Number of persons whose convictions for murder were commuted to penal servitude for life26
Number of persons whose convictions for murder were respited and who were sent to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum4

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons convicted of murder in Scotland were executed; and how many reprieved during 1948.

During 1948 three persons were convicted of murder in Scotland. One was executed: the other two were reprieved in January, 1949.

Smallholdings Advisory Council (Report)

asked the Minister of Agriculture when the report of the committee on smallholdings will be available.

I expect to receive the first report of the Smallholdings Advisory Council within the next few weeks, and it will be published as soon as possible thereafter.

Colonies (Stowaways)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many stowaways arrived in the Port of London from British Colonies in Africa during 1948; what legal steps are taken with regard to these stowaways; and what happens to them when any sentence they may receive has been served.

The Home Office informs me that in 1948, 101 of the 163 stowaways from British Colonies who arrived in London came from Africa. Eleven were refused leave to land by the immigration authorities and 60 were prosecuted by the shipping companies concerned. These people are dealt with by the Ministry of Labour and other Government Departments in the same way as are other persons who arrive in this country seeking employment.

Colonial House, Whitechapel

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Colonial House, 17 Leman Street, Whitechapel, was raided by the police on 29th January last, and certain of its inmates arrested; and why his Department was not represented in the Thames Police Court on 31st January and 14th February when these men came up for trial.

I am aware of the incident referred to by the hon. and gallant Member when a number of the men frequenting the hostel were taken into custody. I do not think that any purpose would have been served by my Department's being represented at the hearing of the charge against these persons.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give details of the accommodation at the Colonial Hostel, at 17, Leman Street, Whitechapel; who is engaged to look after it; to whom is the canteen rented; and why the club room is now closed after 8 p.m.

The accommodation comprises a club room, sleeping accommodation for 13 men and quarters for the Warden. The present warden is Mr. J. O. Andrews. The canteen is rented to Mr. D. Watson. Normally, the club room is open after 8 p.m. but the?time of closing is a matter for the Warden's discretion.

Public Health

Chickenpox (Infected Ships)

asked the Minister of Health how many of the cases of chickenpox that arrived in this country in 1946 from 31 ships were sent to hospital on arrival; and what happened to the other cases.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies I gave to his two Questions on 1st and 2nd November, 1948.

Diphtheria (Immunisation)

asked the Minister of Health what proportion of children under five and of children from five to 14 years of age were inoculated against diphtheria in 1947.

In 1947 approximately 478,000 children under five and 111,000 from five to 14 received inoculation through local authority arrangements in England and Wales. I am not clear to what my horr. Friend's reference to proportion relates.

asked the Minister of Health how many cases of diphtheria in immunised persons were reported in 1947; what were their ages; how many deaths from diphtheria in immunised persons were reported in 1947; and what were their ages.

The only information available concerns children under 15 immunised through local authorities' arrangements. Returns from authorities in England and Wales for 1947 showed that 1,287 diphtheria cases and 16 deaths occurred among immunised children, as compared with 2,654 cases and 182 deaths among children who were not immunised.

Royal Navy (Re-Engagements)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many able seamen, leading seamen, petty officers and chief petty officers all of the seaman branch have signed on to complete time for pension in the years 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948 respectively, and in each case what percentage of those available to re-engage the figures represent.

The numbers of able seamen, leading seamen, petty officers and chief petty officers, all of the seaman branch, who signed on to complete time for pension in the years 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948 respectively are shown in the following table. This table also shows the proportions which these figures represent of those available to re-engage

RATINGS OF THE SEAMAN BRANCH WHO SIGNED ON TO COMPLETE TIME FOR PENSION
Rate1945194619471948
NumberNumberNumberPercentage of those eligible NumberPercentage of those eligible
Per cent.Per cent.
Able Seamen38511816(A)17(A)12
(B)25(B)17
Leading Seamen38422521(A)14(A)11
(B)20(B)16
Petty Officers26624513030(A)138(A)24
(B)165(B)29
Chief Petty Officers.42693849(A)20(A)43
(B)22(B)48
TOTAL38440721128(A)189(A)21
(B)232(B)26
In the last column, the lower numbers and percentages (marked A) refer to reports already received in the Admiralty. There is, however, a number of reports still outstanding, and the higher figures (marked B) are those which are expected when all reports have been received.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many artisans and artificers have signed on to complete time for pension in the years 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948

ARTISANS AND ARTIFICERS WHO SIGNED ON TO COMPLETE TIME FOR PENSION
1945194619471948
NumberNumberNumberPercentage of those eligibleNumberPercentage of those eligible
Per cent.Per cent.
Artisans14151352(A)16(A)44
(B)18(B)50
Artificers11911812551(A)148(A)44
(B)170(B)50
In the last column, the lower numbers and percentages (marked A) refer to reports already received in the Admiralty. There is, however, a number of reports in 1947 and 1948. It is regretted that the corresponding proportions for 1945 and 1946 are not obtainable:respectively; and in each year what proportion of those available to re-engage the figures represent.

The numbers of artisans and artificers who signed on to complete time for pension in the years 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948 respectively are shown in the following table. This table also shows the proportions which these figures represent of those available to re-engage in 1947 and 1948. It is regretted that the corresponding proportions for 1945 and 1946 are not obtainable:still outstanding, and the higher figures (marked B) are those which are expected when all reports have been received.

Housing (Contract Prices)

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he will give the highest and the lowest price or contract he has permitted to be made by local authorities outside Kent or London for a typical three bedroomed house in the year 1948–49 stating whether these figures include the cost of the land, roads and utilities generally;(2) if he will give the highest and lowest purchase or contract prices he has permitted to be made by local authorities in Kent, by the metropolitan boroughs and by the London County Council for a typical three bedroomed house arranged for during the year 1948–49, stating whether these figures include the land, roads, drainage and similar matters in addition to the construction of the house.

The approved tender prices of which the Department have record could not be related to the typical house suggested by the hon. Member without careful examination of details in order to make proper allowances for differences in site conditions, lay-outs, designs and plans.