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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 6th April, 1949

Royal Air Force



asked the Secretary of State for Air what existing custom was relaxed when his Department engaged Mr. T. Campbell as an Air Ministry fitter in October, 1939.

Before the war it was a recognised custom throughout the engineering industry that skilled employment was open only to those who had served an apprenticeship or had had equivalent practical experience. This custom was relaxed under the terms of an agreement made between the Air Ministry and the Amalgamated Engineering Union in October, 1939, and Mr. Campbell is employed in accordance with this agreement.

Fighter Force


asked the Secretary of State for Air what decision has been reached concerning the degree of priority to be granted to the establishment of an effective fighter force for the protection of Britain.

It is not practicable, within the limits of a Parliamentary answer, to describe the priorities given to different parts of the Royal Air Force, but I think my statements in the Debate on the Air Estimates afford sufficient evidence of the importance His Majesty's Government attach to building up the strength of the fighter force for the protection of this country.

Civil Aviation (Aerodromes)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation why the North-East of England has again been excluded from the list of 17 airports in respect of which building development and extension is proposed and planned during the current year; and on what grounds it is proposed to give priority to 17 airports when the North-East of England is still without any airport capable of handling continental traffic.

There is no aerodrome in the North-East under the control of my noble Friend and the development of an entirely new aerodrome at Boldon is a major undertaking still in the planning stage and beyond our present resources.

Germany (Dr Adenauer's Speech)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the recent speech by Dr. Adenauer in Switzerland in which he said that the German Army and not the German people had been defeated in the war; and if the military governor has reprimanded Dr. Adenauer for his subversive speech.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to a similar question from the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) on 4th April.

Syria (Government)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what relations he proposes to have with military dictatorship in Syria.

The Government of Syria was overthrown by a military coup on 30th March. It is still uncertain what form of Government will emerge, and His Majesty's Government are still considering their attitude.


Trusteeship Council (Report)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to correct the report officially put before the United Nations Trusteeship Council on 11th March to the effect that Tanganyika is being converted into a fortified base.

This allegation, which is completely without foundation, has been formally denied in the Trusteeship Council by the United Kingdom Representative. My right hon. Friend considers that no further steps are necessary to correct it.

Employment Contracts (Offences)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that penal sanctions may still be applied against labourers in Tanganyika who use abusive or insulting language to employers or who unlawfully leave their employer's service; that 142 convictions and 115 terms of imprisonment resulted from this in 1947; and whether he will institute an inquiry with a view to amending the law in this respect.


The use of abusive or insulting language to an employer by a servant is no longer a penal offence under the legislation relating to contracts of employment in Tanganyika. Unlawful desertion is a special problem in a country where contracted workers are frequently brought great distances at a considerable expense to the, employer, and, in present conditions and circumstances, the continuance of the penal sanction for desertion of the worker is regarded as both justifiable and advisable. The position will be kept under review.

Sisal Industry (Welfare Scheme)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied with the working of the welfare scheme in the Tanganyika sisal industry whereby only £2 10s. of the increase of £18 10s. per ton in the price of sisal is to be devoted to welfare measures in the industry, and what is to be the future of this scheme.

Yes. The Acting Governor is being consulted regarding the continuation of the scheme and my Hon. Friend will be informed of the result of this consultation.

Labour Supply Corporation


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of African apprehensions regarding the Labour Supply and Utilization Ordinance, 1948, issued by the Government of Tanganyika; and whether the constitution of the proposed Commission, on which there is strong representation of European industries, will be modified to allay these fears.

The Ordinance in question, which has not yet been brought into force, provides for the appointment of not less than two members to represent the interests of labourers on the Labour Supply Corporation. My right hon. Friend is not aware of any widespread apprehensions among the African population regarding this Ordinance.

Cost Of Living


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will undertake a statistical survey of the cost of living for the African population of Tanganyika to meet the criticism of the visiting mission of the Trusteeship Council that no information on this subject was available, except for Dar-es-Salaam.

Yes, when staff and accommodation can be provided. There is at present a shortage of trained statisticians.

Medical Officers


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that only six African medical officers from Tanganyika have been trained at Makerere Medical School and that there are no African registered medical practitioners in Tanganyika; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this situation.

Nine African assistant medical officers from Tanganyika have been trained at Makerere. No Tanganyika Africans have so far acquired a medical qualification which is registrable in this country. My right hon. Friend has recently approved Colonial Development and Welfare Grants totalling £152,000 towards the extension of medical teaching facilities at Makerere. The possibility of recognising the Makerere medical diploma as a registrable qualification is also being examined. I hope that these steps will lead to an increase in the numbers of qualified African medical officers in East Africa.

Minimum Wage Ordinance


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consider the application of the existing Minimum Wage Ordinance in Tanganyika with the object of establishing a higher level of wages for the African population and so offer an inducement to the employers to provide training for skilled, efficient workers as recommended by the visiting mission.

My right hon. Friend is in communication with the Governor of the territory on the application of the existing Minimum Wage Ordinance.

Malaya And Singapore

Public Services (Report)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the report of the Select Committee on the Public Services Commission which has recently been forwarded to him from Singapore.

No; my right hon. Friend has not yet received the Committee's Report.

Advisory Committees


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the proceedings of the Advisory Committees, to which objections of persons detained in Malaya and Singapore require to be made, are held in secret; and whether such persons making objections may be represented by a legal adviser or other representative.

The proceedings of the Advisory Committees are held in camera for security reasons. A person making an objection may be represented, by leave of the Advisory Committee, by an advocate or agent.

Jamaica (Newspaper Advertising)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Government of Jamaica has permitted the "Gleaner" to increase its advertising content up to 60 per cent. of the total newsprint used on the condition that the paper reverts to its original price of 2d. a copy, in view of the fact that in this country the percentage regarded as reasonable for advertisement is only 25 per cent. and that much of the newsprint has to be bought from dollar sources.

My right hon. Friend has not been informed of the increase mentioned, but he is in correspondence with the Governor on the question and will write to the hon. Member.

Gambia (Capital Expenditure)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will estimate the amount of capital expenditure planned for Gambia for the 12 months commencing 6th April, 1949.

Capital expenditure by the Gambia Government, is expected to amount to about £400,000 in 1949. Similar information regarding capital expenditure on private account is not available.

Barbados (Commissioner Of Police)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a full statement on the dismissal of Colonel Duke as Commissioner of Police, Barbados, and state in particular why the original reason given for his retirement, namely, that of age, was altered to that of an adverse report; why Colonel Duke was never shown any such adverse report; and what ruling he has given on the application of the House of Representatives to appoint a Sub-Committee to consider the facts and take evidence.

The Governor reached the conclusion that the maintenance of the efficiency of the Police Force called for the appointment of a younger Commissioner with the requisite energy and drive. Colonel Duke was, therefore, informed that he would be required to retire on pension under the Pension Act recently passed by the Legislature. In reply to an address by the House of Assembly it was stated that the decision to retire this officer was arrived at after consideration of reports on him over several years. It is not the practice to inform an officer of reports unless they draw attention to faults or shortcomings which it is in his power to amend. My right hon. Friend is already in communication with the Officer Administering the Government on the matter referred to in the last part of the Question.

Cyprus Criminal Code


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Cyprus Criminal Code has recently been amended; and whether any representations urging this course of action had been made on behalf of the islanders by their political parties or other organisations.

The Code has been amended so as to extend and strengthen the provisions relating to sedition. As regards the second part of the Question, my right hon. Friend is not aware whether there have been any such representations.

Us Forces (Accommodation)


asked the Minister of Defence what is the total cubic content of buildings now occupied in this country by or on behalf of United States of America military services, their personnel and dependants and the total cubic content of buildings actually erected or in course of erection or proposed to be erected for such occupation.

It is regretted that the information is not available and could only be obtained by an unjustifiable expenditure of time, energy and money.

Food Supplies

Shops (Self-Service)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will ensure that when licences are issued to multiple and big stores for refitting their shops on the "Help-Yourself" basis, the small shops are given a fair proportion, since other- wise the setting up of such facilities might cause customers of small shops to leave them in order to take advantage of the new quick service.

Arrangements made in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works provide that half the licences will be available for independent traders.

Algerian Wine


asked the Minister of Food if, in order to avoid further deterioration and to find out the market price, he will give instructions for 50 casks of the Algerian wine bought by him to be offered for sale at public auction without reserve at the next opportunity.

The wine is not deteriorating. It has in fact improved in quality since it was landed. My right hon. Friend is not at present prepared to dispose of the wine by auction.

Pigs (Slaughter)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will make it a condition of issuing licences for the slaughter of pigs under the self suppliers' scheme that the pigs are slaughtered with the use of a humane killer.

I have great sympathy with the hon. Gentleman on this question, but I regret that it would be impracticable to make the use of a humane killer a condition for the grant of a slaughtering licence for a pig for home consumption, since a large number of these pigs are killed on remote farms. In any case it would be impossible to enforce such a requirement.

New Potatoes (Import)

asked the Minister of Food what is his policy with regard to the import of new potatoes from Brittany this year.

The importation of potatoes from European France is prohibited by the Importation of Plants Order of 1947 (S.R. & O. 1947 No. 671) because of the risk of Colorado beetle infection. I regret, therefore, that I cannot include Brittany in the list of places from which new potatoes may be imported.


asked the Minister of Food to state the average prices paid for home-produced and imported supplies of the following foods during the past six months or other convenient period: beef, lamb and mutton, bacon, shell eggs, cheese, wheat, barley and linseed.

CommodityHome-produced SuppliesImported suppliesRemarks
Beef£136·08 per tonFrozen fore £68·25 per ton c.i.f. and hind quartersPrice paid for home-produced supplies are net, i.e. prices paid to producers less the sales relisations from all offals.
Boned and £79·75 per ton c.i.f.
Lamb£216·25 per ton£103·54 per ton c.i.f.No expenses have been included. Lump sum payments to Argentine and Uruguay are exluded.
Mutton£165·33 per ton£64·49 per ton c.i.f.
Bacon239s. per cwt. Ex factory218s. 10d. per cwt. C.i.f.
Shell Eggs£6 6s. 8d. per box of 30 doz.£4 5s. 6d. per box of 30 doz. C.i.f.
Rationed101s. 6d. per cwt. (excluding the milk subsidy)206s. 10d. per cwt.c.i.f.There is a subsidy on the milk used for manufacture equivalent on the average to 217s.
Points303s. per cwt. c.i.f.per cwt. of home produced cheese.
Wheat£20 11s. 8d. to £23 3s. 0d. per ton£23 3s. 0d. per ton c.i.f.Home-grown wheat is not bought by the Ministry. Prices which vary according to the month, are those for millable wheat contained in the Home Grown Wheat Order for sale by an approved buyer.
Barley£23 10s. 0d. per ton (minimum, for millable barley)£32 10s. 2d, per ton c.i.f.Prices paid for home-produced supplies cover purchases of millable barley) by the Ministry. (The price paid for barley for human consumption on a sale by an approved buyer can reach £31 5s. 0d.)
Linseed£59 3s. 0d. per ton£62 0s. 2d. per ton c.i.f.
NOTE—The prices for imported supplies are based on the figures published in the Trade and Navigation Accounts for the period July-December, 1948.


Rent Tribunals


asked the Minister of Health from which local authorities he has not yet received representations, and with which local authorities he has not yet had consultations under the provisions of Section 1 (1) of the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946; in respect of which local authorities who have made representations or with which he has had consultations he has not yet made orders under this Section; and what further steps he proposes to take to persuade those local authorities who have not yet sought the powers offered by this Act, to enable tenants who are being charged unreasonable rentals to place their cases before rent tribunals.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 8th February last. The present posi- ition is that orders have been, or are being, made applying the Act to the areas of 290 of the 462 authorities there referred to, and that consultations are proceeding with the remaining 172.

Rent Control (Premiums)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in the case of a dwelling-house which would otherwise be controlled under the Rent Acts, but in respect of which a rental less than two-thirds of the rateable value of the dwelling-house is payable, a tenant or assignee can be charged a premium of any amount by the landlord or assignor no matter how short the term of the tenancy; and whether he will introduce legislation to remedy this situation.

My right hon. Friend is aware of the position but is not satisfied that legislation is desirable.

Ministry Of Supply

Telephone Plant (Exports)


asked the Minister of Supply what was the value received in dollars for the export of telephone plant manufactured in this country to the last convenient date.

One hundred and forty thousand pounds in 1947 and £340,000 in 1948.

Long-Distance Bombers


asked the Minister of Supply what is the estimated cost of the latest type of long-distance bomber used by the Royal Air Force.

It would be contrary to established practice to disclose information about the price of a particular type of aircraft.

Post Office

Telephone Applications, Scotland

asked the Postmaster-General how many applications for telephones are outstanding in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth; and what is the cause of the prolonged delay in providing these services.

At the end of 1948 there was 7,991 applications for telephones outstanding in Edinburgh, 15,538 in Glasgow, 1,694 in Aberdeen 1,227 in Dundee and 482 in Perth. In these areas, as elsewhere, the delay in providing service is due to shortage of manpower and to the restricted supplies of telephone equipment available for home use.

Collections And Deliveries

asked the Postmaster-General why pre-war postal deliveries and collections cannot be established in the capital of Scotland; and if he is aware that numbers of men and women in the capital are not otherwise employed and would be available after instruction for this work.

As I said in reply to the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) on 9th March, I am anxious to improve Post Office services as soon as conditions permit, but I must have regard to the postal service as a whole and to the manpower position on a national basis.

Television Services

asked the Postmaster-General in what parts of Great Britain television services are already established; how long is Scotland to wait for such services; and how many sets have been licensed in Great Britain.

The B.B.C. is operating one television station at Alexandra Palace, London, which serves an area comprising about one-quarter of the population of the United Kingdom. I am sorry that I am unable to say when television services will be extended to Scotland. 120,100 television licences were current at the end of February, 1949.

Discharged Prisoners (Aid)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the number of voluntary workers who assist prisoners on their completion of sentence.

Approximately 1,500 voluntary workers are estimated to be directly engaged in the work of the various Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies and of the other associations concerned with after-care and aid on discharge for prisoners and Borstal inmates. Many others participate in this work by reason of their membership of various voluntary bodies whose services are always at the disposal of the aid societies. I welcome this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the spirit of social service shown by all these voluntary workers, and also of the valuable help given by many probation officers.

National Finance

Northern Ireland (Grants)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the total amount of grants made to the Government of Northern Ireland during the three years ending 31st March, 1949.

£6 million under the Unemployment and Family Allowances (Northern Ireland Agreement) Act, 1946, and the Social Services (Northern Ireland Agreement) Act, 1949.

Reserved Services, Northern Ireland

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the total amount of Revenue taken by the Government from the Services in Northern Ireland known as Reserved Services.

The yield of Reserved Taxes after deduction of the cost of Reserved Services is estimated at £48.5 million for 1948–49 and the Imperial Contribution at £21.5 million.

Number of Staff at 1st January, 1949
Staff GroupWhole TimePart Time
Clerical and Clerical Assistants141,167119,9232356,014264,215
Messengers, Cleaners, etc.26,6226,5391,09413,28740,351
Post Office Minor and Manipulative (Postmen, Telephonists, Telegraphists, etc.)134,03656,75110,3379,708200,809
Professional, Technical and Scientific43,1733,0394638446,486
Technical Ancillary43,0019,51013320552,680
* Includes part-time staff counted as half units.
It is not possible to establish a percentage of these totals who can be said to be employed on "relatively unskilled" duties; nor is it possible to determine the total savings in any staff group resulting from improvements in methods and organisation, because variations in numbers are influenced by many factors which cannot be separately identified in their effect.


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1) when the Northampton College of Technology may expect to

Civil Service


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will give an analysis by staff groups of the total number of non-industrial civil servants at 1st January; and to what extent since 1946 improved methods and organization and any other factors have resulted in a reduction in the percentage of those employed on relatively unskilled work.

The analysis required is:receive particulars of the Civil Service examinations required by the college in order to plan their course;(2) why requests from the Northampton College of Technology addressed to the Civil Service Commissioners, 6, Burlington Gardens, W.1, and dated 10th February, 23rd February and 5th March. 1949, have not been complied with.

The Commissioners have now sent the Northampton College of Technology particulars of their forthcoming examinations. They regret the delay which was due to an oversight, and they have tendered their apologies.