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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 5th April, 1949


Improvement Scheme, Knoydart


asked the Secretary of State of Scotland what action he proposes to take in regard to the development of the Knoydart peninsula following upon Mr. John Cameron's Report.

Mr. Cameron makes a clear-cut recommendation in favour of the development of Knoydart as a single stock-raising unit with a limited forestry development to be undertaken by the estate. The estate have submitted an improvement scheme under the Hill Farming Act of 1946 and the local hill farming committee have recommended approval of this scheme subject to the working out of details. After further consultation with the Highlands Advisory Panel I have decided to act on these recommendations, as representing the best development of the area from the economic point of view. The improvement scheme will open up the way for the maximum production of beef and mutton of which this area is capable and should enable this maximum to be achieved in the shortest possible time. I share Mr. Cameron's regret that he has not found the area suitable for subdivision into smallholdings but the technical advice at my disposal indicates that even a limited development of this kind could not be carried out at Knoydart with prospects of success.

Local Government Manpower Committee

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he proposes to appoint a Committee on Local Government Manpower in Scotland similar to the committee recently set up in England and Wales.

Yes. I have invited the Scottish Local Authority Associations to appoint representatives to serve with representatives of Government Departments on a Local Government Manpower Committee with the following terms of reference:

"To review and co-ordinate the existing arrangements for ensuring economy in the use of manpower by local authorities and by those Government Departments which are concerned with local government matters and to examine in particular the distribution of functions between central and local government and the possibility of relaxing departmental supervision of local authority activities and delegating more responsibility to local authorities."
I hope to announce the constitution of the Committee at an early date.

Cement Manufacture

asked the Minister of Works what progress has been made in the discussions between manufacturers and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board regarding the manufacture of cement in Scotland.

So far as I am aware, such discussions as have taken place have been confined to the quantities of Scottish cement of the standard required for Hydro-Electric work which can be made available. These discussions have resulted in a wider use of Scottish cement for Hydro-Electric work.

British Army

Pay Office Staffs


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the approximate number of National Service men now engaged on regimental pay office and records office duties; what military training they receive to qualify them for service with the Territorial Army; and why available qualified civilians are not employed for this sedentary work.

It is not the practice to make public the numbers of Regular soldiers or National Service men engaged on particular duties. National Service men employed in regimental pay offices receive military and technical training during the first six months of their service; this is carried on to a lesser extent throughout their Army service and when they pass to the Territorial Army they will be trained men available for recall to the Colours in the event of an emergency. Such a reserve of trained men would be needed for the expansion of pay services on mobilisation. The staffs of overseas pay offices must in the main be military; consequently there must be an adequate number of military staff in pay offices in this country to provide the trained men required for posting overseas. It is not at present the policy to employ National Service men in record offices.

Short Service Scheme


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any further statement to make on the short service bounty scheme which it was proposed to terminate.

In the course of the Debate on the Army Estimates my hon. Friend stated, in reply to a question by the hon. Member, that the type "A" short service scheme was terminating. As the hon. Member has been informed, this was the intention at the time when the Estimates were prepared. Since my hon. Friend made his statement, however, the matter has been reconsidered. I have now decided that it would be preferable not to discontinue the scheme at present.

Sennybridge Range, Breconshire

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that the information required about sheep grazing on the Sennybridge Range, Breconshire, for the payment of subsidy, will not in future be unduly delayed as was experienced in respect of the 1948 applications.

Yes. The delay was due to a misunderstanding and I have made arrangements with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture with the object of ensuring that it shall not recur.

Territorial Army

Travelling Expenses


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will increase the distance for eligibility for travelling allowances for members of the Territorial Army, in view of the fact that some officers and men were specially requested to rejoin their former units which, in some cases, are more than 15 miles from their homes.

In certain circumstances travelling expenses for members of the Territorial Army to cover the cost of journeys between home and Territorial Army centre are payable for journeys beyond 15 miles.

Anti-Aircraft Practice Camps


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, at Anti-Aircraft practice camps this summer, he will arrange for all household duties such as cooking, cleaning, and ration drawing to be carried out by civilians, in order that the limited numbers attending may devote the whole of the time to training.

Authority has been given for the employment of civilians at Anti-Aircraft Command practice camps this year. They are to be employed as mess waiters, and dining-hall, cookhouse and sanitary dutymen.

New Town, Peterlee


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning when the survey of minerals under the proposed new town Peterlee will be complete.

Presumably what the hon. Gentleman has in mind is the expert investigation referred to by my right hon. Friend in his reply of 1st February. This investigation is complete and its implications are being considered by the Corporation and by the Departments concerned.

National Finance

Purchase Tax (Water Softeners)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will extend the definition of industrial water softeners contained in Customs and Excise letter, reference 4 of 19th May, 1947, from their Birmingham office to gas water heaters manufactured to the same general specification for fittings and finish and marketed under the same conditions.

No. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury stated in reply to the hon. Member's Question on 16th February, the idea that domestic types of water softeners were exempt from Purchase Tax if modified for industrial use arose from a misunderstanding. This has now been corrected and the letter referred to has accordingly been superseded by a general notification to the trade.

Post-War Credits


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now introduce legislation to authorise the payment of post-war credits to totally disabled men.

National Land Fund


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the accumulated balance of the National Land Fund; and what proposals he intends to make to extend the purposes for which the fund can be used.

The balance of the National Land Fund (including invest-

Hartsop Hall, Patterdale, Westmorland, and Brotherswater1,854National Trust.
"Tregonnan", Treyarnon Bay, St. Merryn, Cornwall3Youth Hostels Association.
Cotehele Estate, in St. Dominick and Calstock, Cornwall1,277National Trust.
Town End House and Town End Farm, Troutbeck, Westmorland776National Trust.
Glanllyn and Trawsfynydd Estates (including Bala Lake) and part of Aberhirnant Estate, Merioneth39,130Minister of Agriculture.
Rainham Hall, Rainham, Essex2National Trust.
Southdown Farm, Warmwell, Dorset273National Trust

Government Organisation Committee


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what work has been carried out by the Government Organisation Committee since July,1948; and, apart from those associated with the removal of controls, what main recommendations and economies have so far been made.

Of the recommendations made by the Commitee so far, only those relating to controls have called for any public announcement. The majority of the inquiries set on foot by the Committee are, however, still in progress, and it is too early yet to say anything about most of them. My hon. Friend will, however, have noticed that the following inquiries have been announced either to the House or in the Press:(1) Central and local government: appointment of Local Government Manpower Committee.(2) Ministry of Supply: review of organisation.

ments at present market value) is £51,690,000. I have no immediate proposals for extending the purposes for which the fund may be used, as I intend to await the report from the recently setup Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir E. Gowers before arriving at any decision.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the properties now accepted by the National Land Fund, giving the acreage of land in each case, and the bodies to which they have been transferred.

The following are the properties so far accepted, with their acreage and the bodies to which they have been or are about to be transferred.(3)Air Ministry: review of organisation.(4) Board of Inland Revenue: review of organisation.(5) Civil building work for the Service Departments: examination of division of work between the Ministry of Works and the works organisations of the three Service Departments.As I told my hon. Friend on 13th July, 1948; if any important changes affecting the House or the public result from these or the other inquiries instituted by the Committee, they will be announced.

Civil Service (Organisation And Methods)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the present size of the organisation and methods staff, other than clerical, in each of the Government Departments with a separate organisation and methods branch; and how many in each have passed through the organisation and methods regular training course.

The numbers are as follows:

Number of StaffNumber passed Training Course
Agriculture and Fisheries119
Air Ministry1815
Customs and Excise15½10
Foreign Office (German Section)66
Fuel and Power107
Inland Revenue1613
Labour and National Service169
National Assistance Board54
National insurance3929
Post Office3525
War Office2113

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many officers have passed through the organisation and methods training course since 30th April, 1947; and what is the present rate of training.

Three hundred and forty-one, of whom 293 belonged to Government Departments. Approximately 200 officers will be trained during 1949.

Trade And Commerce

Tractors (Minister's Discussions)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the outcome of his official visit to the Midlands on Friday, 25th March.

On 25th March my right hon. Friend visited the factories of Harry Ferguson Limited and the Standard Motor Company at Banner Lane, Coventry. This visit was arranged before any redundancy had been announced at the factory, so that he could discuss at first hand the problems that are arising in various overseas markets in connection with the sale of tractors. My right hon. Friend discussed these problems fully during his visit with representatives of management and of the trade unions; he will bear in mind the interests of the agricultural manufacturing industries in the course of negotiations with the various countries concerned.

Proposed Factory, Brighton


asked the President of the Board of Trade why he is not prepared to grant a licence to the Melnick Selwyne Company, Limited, furniture manufacturers, to build a factory on the new Hollingbury Estate, Brighton; whether he is aware that such a factory would ease the unemployment problem in Brighton; and whether he will reconsider his decision.

The project does not satisfy the tests laid down in the Economic Survey for 1949 for new industrial building.

Home-Grown Timber (Prices)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the recent decision of the Agricultural Wages Board authorising an increase in the minimum wages for woodmen; and whether, in consequence, he will order a review of the prices' schedule of home-grown timber.

Maximum prices for home-grown timber, which were fixed in 1939, were increased in 1947. Organisations representing English and Scottish woodlands owners have put forward a case for a further increase on the ground that wages have recently risen and this case is now being considered.

Siam (Military Advisers)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British military advisers or instructors are now in Siam; for how long they will remain; what they are doing; and why and under what agreement with the Government of Siam they are there.

There are no British military advisers or instructors in Siam; the last parts of the Question therefore do not arise.

Shop Windows (Lighting)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the lighter industrial load on Saturday afternoons, he will permit the lighting of shop windows after 12 noon on Saturdays between 2nd October and 2nd April.

Yes. The Electric Lighting (Restriction) Order, 1949 (S.I. 633/49) permits the lighting of shop windows at any time on Saturdays throughout the year.

Food Supplies

Eire Potatoes

asked the Minister of Food what tonnage of potatoes have been bought from Eire in the last six months, and at what price per ton; and how much of these have been used for human consumption and how much for animal feeding.

The ware potatoes which have been imported in recent months from Eire were bought as long ago as February, 1948. As I informed the hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Lieut.-Colonel Corbett) on 19th January, the contractual quantity is 50,000 tons at prices of £10 13s. 6d. per ton f.o.b. Eire port up to 31st January, 1949, and £11 8s. 6d. per ton thereafter. Of this quantity 5,540 tons had been imported up to 19th March and used wholly for human consumption.

Model By-Laws

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the Brentford and Chiswick Council have been waiting for more than one year for the revised model for by-laws under the provisions of Section 15 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938; that his Department has informed the council on three separate occasions during 1948 that this would shortly be available, but that on 10th February last, his Department advised the council that there might be a further considerable delay; and what action he will take to settle this urgent matter.

Yes. A first draft of the model by-laws was ready last July. It was necessary thereafter to consult associations representing the interests of persons who will be affected by the bylaws. These consultations have taken much longer than was expected. They have now been completed, a second draft is being prepared, and the remaining stages of the work will be brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible. In the meantime local authorities may, if they wish, submit by-laws for confirmation on the old model.

Malta (Imported Periodicals)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what periodicals which are published in this country, are forbidden to be imported into Malta; and what is the reason for this policy.

There is no general prohibition against the importation into Malta of any periodicals published in the United Kingdom. There are powers arising out of local legislation under which individual postal articles which are indecent, obscene, impious, seditious or grossly offensive may be detained by the Postmaster-General of Malta on the authority of the Minister in charge of his Department.

Ministry Of Health (Staff)

asked the Minister of Health how many additional civil servants in the clerical and administrative grades have been appointed in his Department since the start of the National Health Act in July, 1948.

Additional appointments to the clerical and executive grades since 1st July, 1948, have been 42 and 124 respectively; the number of administrative officers has decreased by three resulting in a net addition of 163.

Local Government Boundaries (Report)

asked the Minister of Health if he will now give the date of publication of the 1948 Report of the Local Government Boundary Commission.

National Insurance (Ex-Service Men)

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many disabled ex-Service men are in receipt of sickness benefit from his Department; and how many of them are over 60 years of age.

Messrs Short And Harland (Shares)

asked the Minister of Supply to state the total share capital which the Government has invested in the firm of Messrs. Short and Harland, Belfast.

His Majesty's Government holds, through a wholly owned company, S.B. (Realisations) Limited, 820,000 fully paid up £1 shares in Messrs. Short Brothers and Harland, Limited.

Ordnance Survey

asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress has been made by the Ordnance Survey Department on the re-survey of built-up areas in the West Riding of Yorkshire; and when it is estimated that 1/1250 and 1/2500 scale maps will be available.

About one-eighth of the field survey strength of the Ordnance Survey is employed on the re-survey of built-up areas in the West Riding. Work is proceeding in Sheffield, Pontefract, Castleford and Leeds; and other towns will be taken up as soon as possible. A few 1/1250 and 1/2500 plans of the resurveyed built-up areas should be available about mid-1950; and it is hoped that most of those for the urban areas of the West Riding will be published by 1960. The programme for the 1/2500 re-survey of rural areas has not been decided, but it will not start in the West Riding before 1952. It is hoped to complete the whole country by 1980.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress has been made in carrying out the post-war ordnance survey programme.

The short-term publication programme of the Ordnance Survey, which includes the rapid publication of maps and plans in provisional form incorporating the National Grid, is complete in so far as maps on the ¼ inch and inch scales are concerned. About 60 per cent. of the sheets of the provisional 6 inch and 1/25,000 series have also been published.Under the Department's long-term programme, re-survey of built-up areas at a scale of 1/1250 is proceeding in 66 towns. In four of these the work is complete or nearing completion, and in 25 others it should be finished within 18 months. Publication of the resulting plans follows the field work as closely as possible. The re-triangulation of Great Britain is nearly two-thirds completed, and substantial progress has been made in re-establishing levelling data which was lost by enemy action during the war.On the whole, rather less than 5 per cent. of the Department's long-term programme has been completed.


Silicosis, Caernarvonshire

asked the Minister of Labour how many persons are registered as silicotics in each employment centre in Caernarvonshire; and how many are unemployed in each case.

The number of cases of silicosis registered at local offices in Caernarvonshire and the number of such persons unemployed are shown in the table below:

Local OfficeNumber of Silicotics Registered as Disabled Persons

Disabled Ex-Service Men

asked the Minister of Labour how many disabled ex-Service men 60 years of age and over are registered as unemployed at employment exchanges throughout the country.

I regret that the information is not available, as the statistics do not show the unemployed according to ages. A special count would be necessary to supply the information. The number of disabled ex-Service unemployed on 21st February, 1949, was 40,404. Of these, 35,121 were regarded as capable of work under ordinary conditions, and 5,283 as needing sheltered employment.

Pick-Up Balers (Allocation)

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) how many International 50-foot T pick-up balers have been allo- cated to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Agricultural Executive Committees, respectively, during each of the last three years; and how many in each case in each year have been allocated to agricultrual contractors;(2) how many 8-foot Massey Harris combine harvesters have been allocated to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Agricultural Executive Committees, respectively, during each of the last three years; and how many in each case in each year have been allocated to agricultural contractors.

It is not the normal practice to disclose figures relating to individual supplies, or to individual counties. County quotas are determined by my Department, and are allocated by county agricultural executive committees in the best interests of food production: in doing so, committees pay due regard to the relative merits of applications made by agricultural contractors and by farmers.