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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 22 March 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 22nd March, 1949

Scotland (Teachers)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what policy he proposes in order to overcome present and prospective difficulties in attracting and retaining teachers, particularly for secondary schools.

Although there is at present a shortage of primary and secondary teachers, the students coming from the schools, together with those training under the Government's Emergency Scheme, will bring about steady improvement from this Easter. Pre-war standards should generally be restored at varying dates between 1949 and 1952, but I cannot say when the shortage of teachers of mathematics and science will be overcome.

National Finance

Erp (Publicity)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps are being taken to make known to the British public the extent to which our present standard of living and our hopes of recovery are dependent upon the help received from the United States of America under the Marshall Plan.

The vital part in our recovery plans and achievements played by United States help under E.R.P. has been and will continue to be emphasised in Ministerial statements and official publicity, including the Economic Survey, its popular version, a special booklet, and a film shortly to be issued. An E.R.P. Information Office was recently set up to ensure that full recognition is given to the rôle of E.R.P. in the Government's general economic information programme.

Scottish Administration (Cost)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total cost of Scottish administration, national and local government, respectively, per head of the population; and if he will give an estimate of the relative figures for England and Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively.

If the hon. Member will let me know what he means by "administration" in the case of the central Government, I will see if the answer to that part of his Question can be obtained without the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of time and labour. In the case of local authorities it will not be possible to give any figures other than those of total expenditure.

Meat (Customs Confiscation)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why uncooked meat was confiscated by Customs officers from travellers arriving from the Continent on a recent occasion, particulars of which have been sent to him.

Because under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1894, and orders made thereunder the meat was prohibited to be landed in this country.

War Damage Claims (Irregularities)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what procedure is followed in cases where members of the public wish to make representations that war damage claims have been wrongfully submitted to, and admitted by, the War Damage Commission; and if, to facilitate inquiry, the rule that information cannot be disclosed to anyone other than the owners of proprietary interests is relaxed in such cases.

The Commission always investigate cases where irregularity of the kind referred to is alleged. All information in the Commission's possession is made available to investigating officers, and in appropriate cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Commission cannot undertake to disclose information to private individuals.

Civil Service

Temporary Executive Officers


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for what reason the special extra duty allowance of eight per cent. granted to established officers in Government offices in the London area is withheld from senior temporary assistants and temporary assistants, known as temporary executives, in the various Government offices, who work not less than the same number of hours per week, but who are paid only three per cent. in respect of additional hours above standard attendance; and if he will recognise the hours of attendance of these temporary executives by granting them equal treatment.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to his similar Question of 2nd December.

Prime Minister's Public Relations Officer

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the salary of the Prime Minister's Public Relations Officer; and what was that of his predecessor.

Trade And Commerce

Worsted And Woollen Cloths


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take the necessary steps to restore and prevent any further deterioration in the quality of the utility grades of worsted and woollen cloths and also will arrange for larger supplies of this grade of cloth.

The considerable increase in the price of raw wool in 1948, particularly in the finer qualities, has not been fully reflected in increased utility cloth price ceilings. The relatively small increases in price ceilings made last November were designed to avoid deterioration in the wearing qualities of the cloths but some reduction in fineness was inevitable. As regards the second part of the Question, 74 per cent. of civilian clothing fabric was utility in November and we are aiming at a proportion of between 75 per cent. and 80 per cent.


asked the. President of the Board of Trade if he will arrange with the manufacturers of worsted and woollen cloths to reduce the price of this article by diverting for this purpose some of the large profits that they are making.

I am aware that recently announced profits of some companies in this industry have shown an increase over the previous trading year. My hon. Friend will appreciate, however, that these profits are derived from the whole of the activities of the companies. The prices of worsted and woollen cloths for the home market are already strictly controlled, and allow for no more than a reasonable margin of profit.

Ladies' Overalls


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take the necessary steps to increase the supply of outsize ladies' overalls, cotton, for sale in the Nottingham district, as at present the supplies of this necessary article are only a fraction of the need.

The making of out-sizes is encouraged by allowing manufacturers to charge a higher price to cover the extra cost of cloth and labour involved. Supplies of overalls are not sufficient to meet all requirements, but I have no information that the situation is worse in Nottingham than elsewhere. All practicable steps are being taken to increase the production of overall cloths.



asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the new trade negotiations with Japan; and what countries in the British Commonwealth are involved.


asked the President of the Board of Trade with what countries has Japan made trade agreements since the armistice, which are in force now; and with what countries trade agreements are being negotiated or contemplated.

In addition to the multilateral trade arrangement with Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom and its Colonies, General MacArthur has made trade arrangements with the Netherlands and Indonesia, Pakistan, Siam and Sweden. These are still in force. Trade arrangements with Belgium, Burma, Egypt, France and the French Union are understood to be under negotiation or awaiting ratification. Payments arrangements have also been made with the sterling area, and with China, the French Union, the Netherlands and Indonesia, Sweden, Siam, Uruguay and the U.S.S.R.

Lamp And Valve-Making Machinery (Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade to what firms were granted licences for the importation of lamp and valve-making machinery to the value of £15,130 during January, 1949; and what types of machines were so licensed.

It is not the practice of the Board of Trade to disclose the names of firms to whom import licences have been granted. The figure quoted by my hon. Friend represents the actual imports during January, 1949. The licences covering these imports would have been issued during the preceding six or twelve months. It is not possible to specify the particular types of electric lamp and valve-making machinery imported.

Wool Control


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will undertake a complete overhaul of the entire administrative machinery of the Wool Control, in view of the fact that after 1st April it has only two remaining duties but employs 114 full-time workers and occupies more than 14,000 square feet of office accommodation.

No. The Wool Control have at all times kept their staff and accommodation down to the minimum required for their task.

Women's Shoes And Stockings


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that women's outsize stockings and shoes are still hard to procure; and whether he will consider increasing the number of utility stockings and shoes for women who take sizes seven and eight in shoes.

I am aware that there is still some difficulty in obtaining women's large size shoes and stockings. No instructions are given to manufacturers as to the range of sizes which they must produce, but each manufacturer decides what proportions of the various sizes he will make in the light of the orders he receives from the distributors. My Department always try to help any member of the public who has difficulty in obtaining shoes or stockings of the larger sizes.

Andes Agreement (Uk Exports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the quota under the Andes Agreement for the importation of motor cars into the Argentine; and to what extent such imports have in fact been made.

Exchange permits for the importation of 509 passenger motor cars from the United Kingdom were granted by the Argentine Central Bank under Article V (c) of the Andes Agreement. I am unable to say to what extent such imports have so far been made in respect of these particular permits, but 1,033 motor cars were exported from the United Kingdom to Argentina in 1948.


asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of exports sent to the Argentine under Schedule 2 of the Andes Agreement; what that figure represents to the total commitments entered into by His Majesty's Government under that schedule; and whether, in view of the default of the Argentine Government to implement their commitments, His Majesty's Government have considered it necessary to review their commitments.

Since the information is rather lengthy I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, send him a list showing the actual exports by volume from the United Kingdom in 1948 of the items specified in Schedule 2 of the Andes Agreement. I regret that comparable figures by value are not available. From this he will see that the commitments entered into by His Majesty's Government have been fulfilled in most cases: the shortfall in the supply of any item has occurred only because orders or import licences have not been forthcoming from the Argentine. As regards the last part of the Question, His Majesty's Government's commitments to facilitate the supply of the essential commodities listed in the Agreement related to 1948 and were broadly implemented in that time: the suggestion of a review does not therefore arise.

Us Cotton (Imports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what weight of United States cotton was imported and retained for manufacture in this country other than under the European Recovery Progamme during 1948; and what was its value in dollars;(2) what weight of United States cotton was imported and retained for manufacture in this country under the European Recovery Programme during 1948; and what was its value in dollars.

During 1948, retained imports of 22.4 million lb. of raw cotton, f.o.b. value 8.2 million dollars, were financed under the European Recovery Programme, and of 159.3 million lb., f.o.b. value 57.8 million dollars, by other means.

Furniture (Profit Margins)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the profit margins officially allowed to the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retail distributors of utility furniture; and the profit margins usually achieved in the case of new non-utility furniture.

Utility furniture manufacturers are subect to cash maximum prices. These prices are fixed at a level designed to yield 3 or 4 per cent. profit on cost (equivalent to a return of some 10 per cent. on capital employed) to manufacturers observing the best standards of construction and making the most expensive designs which are considered appropriate to the utility scheme. These are maximum prices and the state of the market is such as to impose lower prices for articles of a more modest standard of construction and design. Distributors are allowed a gross margin of 33⅓ per cent. on price paid to manufacturers after deduction of all discounts. This margin is intended to cover their costs and yield a profit based on an estimated return on capital employed of some 10 per cent. In cases where the furniture is handled by a wholesaler, he must share this margin with the retailer.

Manufacturers' maximum prices for non-utility furniture are fixed by reference to cost of production and sale plus a profit margin of 6 per cent. The corresponding gross margin for distributors is 50 per cent. on the price paid to a manufacturer after deduction of all discounts except cash or settlement discounts (not exceeding 5 per cent.). Here again, no separate margin is fixed for wholesalers.

Government Offices, Blackpool (Heating)


asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that there is no heating in the Ministry of National Insurance office at Norbreck Hydro. Blackpool, except a few oil lamps, and that the staff are compelled to work with their overcoats on; and what steps lie is taking to improve the heating system.

Most of the rooms in the Norbreck Hydro have central heating and the remainder are heated by coal fires or electricity. The hotel is, however, in an exposed position and oil stoves are used in addition to the other heating when the weather is very cold. Since the hotel was taken over, a considerable sum has been spent on improving the heating. The building will be derequisitioned as soon as other accommodation is available. I should not be justified in carrying out major improvements to the heating system.

Gowers Committee (Report)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Gowers Committee's report will be published.

My right hon. Friend hopes to publish the report by the end of the month.

Shipping (Repairs, Eire)


asked the Minister of Transport whether, on the coming into operation of the Republic of Eire Act, British shipping companies will have his approval for ship repair facilities in ports in Eire.

The existing arrangements under which British ships may be repaired in Eire without my right hon. Friend's prior approval win continue.

Food Supplies

Andes Agreement (Shipments)


asked the Minister of Food what is the value of goods supplied by the Argentine Government under Schedule I of the Andes Agreement, and what proportion this figure bears to the total commitment entered into by the Argentine Government under that agreement.

The total value of commodities supplied up to 28th February, 1949, against contracts made between the Ministry of Food and the Argentine institute for the Promotion of Trade under the Andes Agreement was £90.5 million. The total value of the foodstuffs included in these contracts was approximately £99 million depending on the quality supplied. The shipments up to 28th February, 1949, therefore represented about 91¼ per cent. of the value of the total commitment.

Wheat Prices

asked the Minister of Food what was the average c.i.f. price of imported wheat during 1948 for Australia, Canada, the Argentine and any other source; and how this compares with the United Kingdom price.

The average c.i.f. cost prices of wheat imported into the United Kingdom during 1948 from the three countries mentioned were approximately: Australia, £29 9s. 6d. per ton; Canada, £19 19s. per ton; Argentine, £34 5s. 9d. per ton. A small quantity of wheat was imported from Eire during 1948, at an average c.i.f. cost of £20 7s. per ton, in exchange for home-grown seed wheat. The weighted average c.i.f. cost to the Ministry of all United Kingdom arrivals of wheat during 1948 is £22 0s. 4d. per ton. The fixed prices of home-grown mill-able wheat on a sale by a grower ranged as follow:1947 crop: from 19s. 1d. per cwt. (£19 1s. 8d. per ton) ex farm in January, 1948, to 20s. 3d. per cwt. (£20 5s. per ton) ex farm in July, 1948.

1948 crop: from 21s. 9d. per cwt. (£21 15s. per ton) ex farm in August, 1948 to 22s. 11d. per cwt. (£22 18s. 4d. per ton) ex farm in December. 1948.

Farmers in the United Kingdom received in additon acreage payments on account of wheat on the following scale: 1947 crop, £2 per acre; 1948 crop, £1 10s. for each half acre (minimum one acre) up to a maximum of 10 acres.

Rifle Clubs (Ammunition)


asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that the Edinburgh and Midlothian Association of Miniature Rifle Clubs has recently suffered a 50 per cent. reduction in the supply of.22 ammunition, which is seriously impeding the activities of clubs in the district; and whether, in view of the desirability of encouraging this form of recreation, he will take steps to increase the supply of small bore ammunition to the association.

The National Small Bore Rifle Association have recently received additional supplies of.22 ammunition. The manufacturers expect to be able to maintain for the rest of the year a rate of supply broadly sufficient to meet the stated requirements of the National Association for the use of the rifle clubs.

National Health Service (Dental Lists)

asked the Minister of Health how many persons holding medical qualifications but no dental qualifications, who have in fact been practising dentists in accordance with the provisions of Section 1 (3) (a) of the Dentists Act, 1921, have applied to have their names included in a dental list under the National Health Service Act, 1946; and whether he will modify his decision against allowing such persons to enter the health scheme when they hold a full medical qualification and have the benefit of long experience in dental practice.

I regret that the information requested in the first part of the Question is not available; the position referred to in the second part follows the decision of Parliament in the National Health Service Act, 1946.

Land (Compulsory Purchase Order)

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning in how many cases the Central Land Board has used its powers to acquire land compulsorily.

The Board inform me that they have just made a compulsory purchase order and that they are about to send it to me for confirmation.

Kenya (Trade Unionism)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has considered the report of a meeting which took place at Thika, Kenya, in February, 1949, addressed by Mr. J. Patrick, the trade union adviser in the Colony, at which a resolution was passed by local employers present deprecating the furtherance of trade unionism in Kenya; and if he will give an assurance that the promotion of trade unionism is still an object of British Colonial policy.

I have not seen the report to which my hon. Friend refers. The answer to the second part of the question is "Yes."


Unlicensed Hotels (Wage Rates)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the inconvenience that will be caused in small seaside hotels and boarding houses by the new wages regulations for unlicensed hotels being introduced in June when the holiday season is just beginning; and what steps he is taking to make these regulations as easy as possible to understand and carry out.

The Unlicensed Residential Establishment Wages Board, which was set up in July, 1946, issued its first proposals for establishing minimum rates on 8th February, 1949. These proposals have not yet been submitted to me. I appreciate that the wages regulation order may be complicated and I am considering how best my Department will be able to assist in explaining its provisions.

Building Workers, The Hartlepools

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give at the last convenient date the number of building trade workers employed in the Hartle-pools exchange area, showing each grade of workers separately.

The following table gives the informtaion desired for July, 1948, the latest date for which figures are available:

Approximate numbers of men and boys in employment* in the building industry in the area of the Hartlepool and West Hartlepool employment exchanges at July, 1948.
Carpenter, Joiner260
Slater, Tiler (Roof)30
Painter, Decorator, Paperhanger260
Plumber, Gas Fitter, etc.160
All other occupations (mainly labourers)880
*Based on the numbers of national insurance cards issued to employees at the employment exchanges in question.

Silicosis (Caernarvonshire)

asked the Minister of Labour how many persons are registered as silicotics in the Gwyrfai Rural District of Caernarvonshire and in Caernarvon Borough, respectively.

Twelve and one respectively. The numbers of those unemployed are five and one respectively.


asked the Minister of Labour how many men and women signed on at the Mossley employment exchange during the week ending 25th February, 1949; and how many of the total were disabled persons.

Eleven males and no females at 14th February (the latest date for which figures are available). The figure includes four men registered under Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944.

asked the Minister of Labour how many men and women signed on at the Mossley employment exchange during the last week in February in each of the years 1921 to 1939 inclusive.

The following table gives the information desired, so far as it is available:

24th April, *19221,1155461,661
26th February, 1923564280844
25th February, 19246704421,112
23rd February, 1925258142400
22nd February, 1926379161540
21st February, 1927399135534
20th February, 1928486236722
25th February, 19297614271,188
24th February,19301,2021,0772,279
23rd February, 19311,8831,3433,226
22nd February, 19321,3637752,138
20th February, 19331,2415551,796
19th February, 19348964091,305
25th February, 19359354591,394
24th February, 1936733265998
22nd February, 1937538108646
14th February, 19387324591,191
13th February, 19396163851,001
*Figures are not available for any date before April, 1922.

Woollen And Worsted Industries

asked the Minister of Labour if he will consider listing all firms in the woollen and worsted industries under their appropriate categories as set out in paragraph 92 of the Wool Textile Industry Joint Factory Advisory Committee's report.

Such a list will have to be built up gradually, because the placing of a building or room in any particular category depends on the circumstances in which machinery is, from time to time, being installed or re-arranged. Inspectors will, however, be keeping a watch on the progress made towards bringing spacing up to the standards recommended by the Committee.

National Service (Post Office And Railway Workers)

asked the Minister of Labour at what age post office and railway workers who are granted deferment between the ages of 18 and 20 years because of their employment are expected to do their period of National Service.

Neither Post Office nor railway workers are granted deferment because of their employment. Those undergoing an approved course of apprenticeship or professional training can, however, apply to have their calling up deferred until the end of their period of training. The age at which they are eventually called up will depend upon the age at which they start the course of apprenticeship or professional training and its duration.