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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Monday 28 March 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 28th March, 1949

Food Supplies

Surplus Milk


asked the Minister of Food what steps are now being taken to deal with milk supplies likely to be surplus to liquid consumption in the near future.

We are allowing consumers to buy as much liquid milk as they wish during the flush period. To deal with what remains, existing manufacturing depots will be used to the utmost; depots closed during the war will be reopened for a few months, certain town processing dairies will help to handle supplies and we are encouraging more farm cheesemaking.

Groundnut Scheme


asked the Minister of Food what privileges are afforded for the purchase of imported foodstuffs and other goods to officials employed by his Department in connection with the groundnut schemes; and how the prices which they pay compare with those which other residents have to pay.

No officials are employed by my Department on the groundnut scheme in East Africa. If the hon. Member is referring to the staff of the Overseas Food Corporation, I would suggest that he approach the Corporation for this information.



asked the Minister of Food in how many cases he has received complaints from individuals that their bacon ration has tasted of fish or some other foreign flavour; in how many such cases he has successfully traced the origin of the pig in question; and in how many cases any fault in feeding has been discovered to be the cause of the complaint and whether it has been possible to rectify this fault in any cases.

I am afraid I have no statistics, but whenever possible we trace the origin of any tainted carcase and give advice, if necessary, about feeding. It is usually taken, with good results.

Sweet Biscuits


asked the Minister of Food if it is his intention to take sweet biscuits off points at the same time as he removes sweets from the ration list.

As announced yesterday, we have removed plain biscuits from points and will not hesitate to remove others as circumstances allow.

Animal Feedingstuffs

asked the Minister of Food if he will indicate what are his plans for the importation of feedingstuffs for poultry and other livestock over the next two years; and by what date he anticipates it will be possible for this country to become self-supporting so far as eggs are concerned.

It is my intention to import as large a quantity of animal feedingstuffs as may be possible within the limits imposed by currency availability. There is no present prospect of eggs being produced in the United Kingdom at moderate prices in sufficient quantity to dispense with the necessity for a substantial volume of imports.

Eggs, Sunderland

asked the Minister of Food whether he will make arrangements for increased supplies of eggs to Sunderland.

I am afraid that I should not be justified in doing this because Sunderland is already receiving a fair share of the available supplies, based on consumer registrations.

Coconut Oil

asked the Minister of Food when coconut oil will be made available to the general public again.

We need all the coconut oil we can obtain for making margarine and cooking fats. I cannot say how long it will be before any can be made available to the general public.

Old Shoreham Toll Bridge


asked the Minister of Transport if he will consider abolishing the toll on the Old Shoreham Bridge at an early date, in view of his circular No. 606, of 18th March, 1947.

My right hon. Friend is discussing with the British Transport Commission the question of freeing this bridge from tolls. He is not in a position to say how soon discussions can be completed.

Football Pools (Claims)


asked the Attorney-General how many prosecutions he has authorised since 1945 arising out of the failure of football pool organisations to pay out moneys claimed to have been won by their patrons.

None. Should any particular case of the kind referred to by the hon. Member amount to a criminal offence, its prosecution would not require my consent or that of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Ministry Of Supply

Rifle Clubs (Ammunition)


asked the Minister of Supply what reduction has been made in the allocation of.22 ammunition to the National Small-bore Rifle Association; what is the reason for this reduction; and whether he is aware of the great disappointment caused to members of rifle clubs throughout the country that this decision should have been made without explanation.

There has been no reduction in the allocation to the National Small-bore Rifle Association as this ammunition is not allocated but is sold by the manufacturers on an ordinary commercial basis. I understand that owing to increased demands the Association's requirements in 1948 were not met in full, but that additional supplies have been delivered during the first three months of 1949 and the manufacturers hope to maintain increased deliveries for the remainder of the year.

Aerodrome, Filton (Employees)

asked the Minister of Supply how many people were employed on the construction of the assembly hall and hangars at Filton.

The average number of persons employed over the period from September, 1946, to 1st March, 1949, was 414.


New Town Site, Berkshire


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has consulted the Berkshire Agricultural Executive Committee on the selection of land at Thatcham for the proposed development of a new town, so as to ensure that there is the least possible interference with food production.

No. My officers are awaiting further information from the County Planning Authority before discussions on any particular area can he considered.

Rooks (Destruction)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to a scheme for keeping down the rook population by blasting them from their nests by means of high explosives; and, in view of the suffering which would be involved, what advice he proposes to give to war agricultural committees on this subject.

Yes, and I strongly deprecate such a method which can only lead to the indiscriminate slaughter of rooks. County agricultural executive committees are being instructed only to organise shoots in areas of dense concentrations.

Land (Consultations)


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will ensure that in future his Land Commissioners do not consent to the alienation of agricultural land without prior consultation with the county agricultural executive committee concerned.

I am at present considering to what extent it may be possible to consult county agricultural executive committees on matters of this kind.



asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has decided when a start can be made with the provision of more smallholdings for men with farming experience.

No. I am studying the recommendations of the Smallholdings Advisory Council in their First Report on the administration of Part IV of the Agriculture Act, 1947, and I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Cottages (Possession)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what are the number of applications made to county agricultural executive committees during the years 1947 and 1948 for certificates to assist farmers to secure possession of cottages; the numbers granted; the numbers of applications made in respect of cottages hitherto regarded as free; and the number of certificates granted.

In 1947, 2,255 applications were made, 1,134 of which were granted. For 1948, the figures were 1,858 and 999, respectively. I assume that by "cottages hitherto regarded as free" my hon. Friend means cottages which, at the time of the application were occupied by persons other than agricultural workers. Separate statistics of this type of case are not available.

Dairy Cattle (Tuberculin Test)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will estimate the amount which would be required in each of the next three years to purchase at killing-out prices all dairy cattle found to react to the tuberculin test, less the carcase value of such reactors.

If the hon. Member has in mind the testing of all dairy cattle over the next three years and the compulsory slaughter of all reactors, that would not be practicable for several reasons, including the effect on milk supplies and on the dairy farming industry. I have therefore not tried to make an estimate; but the difference between killing-out value and carcases value of reactors would be relatively small, since only a small proportion of carcases or parts of carcases would be likely to be condemned.

Rough Grazing Land

asked the Minister of Agriculture what acreage of land in England and Wales consists wholly or predominantly of mountain, moor, heath, down, cliff or foreshore, respectively; and what proportion each forms of the total area of undeveloped land.

The total area of rough grazing land (including common rough grazings) in England and Wales amounts to about 5½ million acres and represents 19 per cent. of the total agricultural area of approximately 30 million acres. Rough grazing land includes mountain, heath, moor and downland used for grazing as well as many small areas of rough land attached to lowland farms. In addition there is other undeveloped land in England and Wales not used as rough grazing. The estimated area of foreshore is 640,000 acres. I regret that the other figures requested by my hon. Friend are not available.

Experimental Farms

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the estimated capital cost of buying and equipping the 18 experimental State farms; and what is the estimated annual loss on their operation.

The acquisition and equipment of these experimental husbandry farms will be spread over several years so that the total capital cost and the annual income and expenditure cannot be foreseen with any accuracy. As regards the cost of the properties that have so far been acquired I would refer the hon. Member to the answer that I have given today to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers).

Herring Industry (Processing Factory)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what difficulties have so far arisen to delay the setting up of the new herring processing factory at Great Yarmouth; and if he will undertake to proceed at once with its erection in order to alleviate the present unemployment in the town.

The Herring Industry Board are at present negotiating for a site for a herring reduction plant. As soon as this is secured and the formalities have been completed, efforts will be made to bring it into operation next Autumn. The plant will give seasonal employment for about 25 persons.

Greece (Death Sentence)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many students of British nationality have been recently sentenced to death in Greece, and what was the nature of the charges made against them.

One. Miss Krini Pavlides, a British subject from Cyprus, was accused, together with some Greek students, of being implicated in sabotage, including the destruction by explosives of telephone exchanges, and resisting arrest with firearms.

Germany (Joint Export-Import Agency)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what were the respective sums contributed by the United Kingdom and the United States of America to the Joint Export-Import Agency; and what is the value of the fund today.

The sums contributed by the United Kingdom and United States Governments to the Joint Export-Import Agency amount to approximately £15½ million each. Until a balance sheet is available I regret that I am unable to state the present financial position of the Agency.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Germans are employed by the Joint Export-Import Agency in responsible posts, including executive and administrative grades; and what proportion of the total number of persons in such posts this constitutes.

Sixty-seven Germans are employed by the Joint Export-Import Agency in responsible posts. These are all in grades equivalent to the Executive class in the British Civil Service. This constitutes a little under 24 per cent. of the total number of personnel employed by the Joint Export-Import Agency in such posts.

Brazil (British Stockholders, Compensation)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that no compensation has yet been agreed between the Brazilian Government and the Ceara Tramway Light and Power Company; and since this British-owned public utility undertaking operating in Brazil was taken over by Federal decree in July last, if he will now assure the British stockholders that payment of compensation will be regarded as an essential condition in the settlement of any pending agreements with the Brazilian Government.

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, my right hon. Friend is not prepared to give in advance so broad an undertaking as that proposed by the hon. Member. He may rest assured, however, that His Majesty's Government are most anxious to secure payment of fair compensation to the British shareholders of this Company. His Majesty's Ambassador at Rio de Janeiro is continuing to press the Brazilian authorities to respond to the representations he has already made in this matter.

African Development Projects (Labour)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the considerable delay in commencing urgent development projects in the African Colonies, due to the lack of skilled and experienced African or British technicians, unemployed English-speaking Italians, with suitable qualifications, are being considered for short-term appointments.

Considerable numbers of skilled and experienced British artisans are, in fact, being employed in the East and Central African territories. In addition, a number of Italians available locally, as well as in the former Italian Colonies, are being employed on certain of the development projects in Africa.

Colonial Empire (Geological Research)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will consider appointing an advisory research committee on geology and mineral resources in the Colonial Empire to assist the newly-appointed adviser on geological matters.

Metropolitan Police DistrictCity of London
Proceedings for Drunkenness11,91014,668102108
Charges Proved11,62714,228101103
Convictions10, 73313, 2139593

Production Department (Manufacturing Trades)

asked the President of the Board of Trade for how many firms his Department is the responsible production Department, how many of these firms employ more than 250 persons; how many employ more than 50 persons and less than 250; and how many employ less than 50 persons.

In the manufacturing trades for which the Board of Trade is the responsible production Department, it is estimated there were in 1948 about 28,000 establishments employing more than ten persons; corresponding information about establishments with ten employees or less is not available. Of the 28,000 establishments, 2,400 employed 250 persons or more, 10,100 employed 50 persons but less than 250, and 15,500 employed more than 10 but less than 50. These figures exclude firms in the service trades and in a few mining and quarrying trades for which the Board is responsible.

I am considering the question of the appointment of such a committee.

Drunkenness, London (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give the number of proceedings, convictions and charges proved for drunkenness in the Metropolitan Police district and/or the County of London and in the City of London, respectively, during the calendar year 1948; and the comparable figures for 1947.

Civil Service (Pensions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the cost to the State of counting unestablished service in the Civil Service in full for pension.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Charles Smith) on 24th March.

Pakistan (British Company's Interests)

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when the hon. Member for Coventry, West, may expect a reply to his letter dated 21st December, 1948, dealing with a complaint of a Coventry company that its interests in Pakistan have been inadequately attended to by the High Commissioner in Karachi.

By an unfortunate accident, for which I express my great regret, the original papers concerning this case were lost before they reached the competent Department. My officers took the matter up with the Coventry company as soon as I received my hon. Friend's letter of 15th March. I have now telegraphed to the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Karachi asking him to send me an early report by telegram on his investigations into the case.

Scotland (Self-Government)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is prepared to consider a referendum in Scotland as to the desirability of some form of self-government for Scotland.

No. Apart from objections in principle to the hon. Member's suggestion, the issues involved are much too complicated for any reliable conclusions to be drawn from replies to isolated questions. Public opinion on such issues with all their implications and consequences, is best made effective through the procedure of Parliamentary democracy.

Prison Service (Psychiatric Treatment)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of psychiatrists employed full time within the prison service; the number of prison doctors who possess special psychiatric qualifications; the number of prison inmates at present serving sentences for homosexual offences; the number or percentage of such prisoners who had received psychiatric treatment at the latest convenient date; and what steps are being taken to improve the position.

No psychiatrists are employed full-time in the prison service but six are engaged in a part-time capacity. Five prison medical officers possess special psychiatric qualifications, and many others have mental hospital experience. Four hundred and twelve prisoners are now serving sentences for homosexual offences. Prisoners convicted of these offences who in the opinion of the medical officer may benefit by psychiatric treatment are transferred to the prisons at which there are psychiatric clinics if their sentences are long enough. During the past six months. 40 homosexual offenders have received psychiatric treatment at these centres, and of those at present under sentence, 35 additional cases have received psychiatric examination and guidance at other prisons. Arrangements have also been made, from which prisoners convicted of these offences will benefit, to extend the psychiatric service available for prisoners who may benefit from treatment but cannot be removed to the special centres. Research, partly therapeutic in character, into the psychological and endocrinological aspects of homosexuality is being conducted at two selected prisons, and homosexuals will also benefit from research which is in progress into psychopathic personalities.