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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 26 April 1949

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British Army

Pay And Allowances, Malaya


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now reconsider the local overseas allowances paid to troops in Malaya.

My right hon. Friend has no evidence from the local military authorities in the Far East which suggests that the local overseas allowance is inadequate for the purpose for which it is issued. He does not therefore consider that it needs to be reviewed at present.

Is the Minister aware that local prices bear no relation to the real rate of exchange—for example, a bottle of beer for a soldier out there costs about 5s. 6d.?

Yes, but these matters are considered in estimating the rate of allowance. On that we had considerable evidence, both written and verbal, when the amount of the allowance was determined.

Is the Minister aware that his point of view is quite wrong in this, that the troops are put into a much worse position than civilians of equal status, and that it is already causing a considerable amount of bad feeling?

I must repeat that this allowance was fixed in the light of evidence most carefully collected, and there has been no evidence from the troops since the time it was fixed, that there is any reason for reviewing it.

Forces, Transjordan (Cost)


asked the Secretary of State for War what has been the average weekly cost of maintaining our Forces at Aqaba during April.

Information is not available centrally from which the cost of keeping the force at Aqaba could be estimated.

Could the Minister give an approximate idea of our expenditure. whether this expenditure is to be continued, and what steps are to be taken to reduce it?

I think my hon. Friend is aware that it is not the practice to give figures which would throw light on the strength of the Army, other than the division between this country and B.A.O.R. and all other overseas theatres together. Even, therefore, if it were possible to make the estimate which my hon. Friend requests, I doubt if it would be in the public interest to give it.

Is there any reason to suppose that the cost would be any more if the troops were somewhere other than in Aqaba?

Overpayments (Deductions)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the hardships suffered by individuals of all ranks as a result of the practice of deducting overpayments from subsequent pay; and whether he will now issue instructions that, in all cases where the over-issue was not the fault of the individual concerned, any overpayment is not to be recovered but to be charged against public funds.

The recipient of an overpayment of Army pay or allowances is normally liable, in principle, to meet in full the public claim which is created against him by the overpayment. In cases, however, where the overpayment has been received and spent in good faith and undue hardship would be inflicted by the enforcement of this principle, it is the practice to limit recovery to an amount which the recipient can repay within a reasonable period, and the balance is written off. My right hon. Friend regrets that he is unable to accept the suggestion that in all cases where the overissue was not the fault of the recipient, the public claim against him should be waived entirely.

Will the Minister bear in mind that in civil employment, when wages are overpaid as a result of an error of the management, it is quite exceptional for any attempt to be made to recover the overpayment, and will he also bear in mind that it is the experience of hon. Members who have to deal with these cases that great hardship results from recovering overpayment?

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that the practice he describes is invariable, and it could not be made so in the public service. As to cases of hardship, we are always willing to look at each individual case on its merits.

Will the hon. Member be good enough to see that the earlier part of his answer is communicated to the officials of the Treasury and of the Inland Revenue because, so far as my own constituency is concerned, it is certainly not known and there are a number of cases of refusal on the part of the officials to make any allowance.

Can the hon. Gentleman look at the machinery—there are unquestionably certain hard cases arising—which is put into operation for testing whether they can repay or not, because that is where the fault takes place? Sometimes they take a generous point of view, sometimes they do not.

I should be willing to look at that, but I have myself had experience of a number of these hard cases, and my general experience is that they are reasonably and sympathetically treated.

Officers (Outfit Allowances)


asked the Secretary of State for War why arrangements have not yet been made to credit the accounts of officers commissioned between October, 1948, and mid-January, 1949, with the higher rate of outfit allowances.

These arrangements have been authorised in recent instructions for Army officers concerned except those of the Reserve Forces, the Territorial Army and the Cadet Forces, for whom appropriate instructions will be issued shortly.

Will the hon. Gentleman see that delay of this kind does not take place in future when new allowances are introduced, because it causes great hardship?

The delay in this case applied to the retrospective working of the concession that was made. There were a number of matters, such as definition of eligibility, that made it difficult to reach an earlier agreement.

German Ex-Prisoner-Of-War


asked the Secretary of State for War why Heinz Muhlmeyer, a German Signal Corps officer, has received no prisoner-of-war pay for the period he was in British custody, namely, 15th July, 1945, to 4th July, 1946, in spite of the fact that he was given prisoner-of-war status and eventually discharged from Prisoner-of-war Discharge Centre No. 2.

I am inquiring into the facts of this case; but owing to the dispersal of various prisoners-of-war records the inquiries are inevitably taking some considerable time. I will, however, write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

But is my hon. Friend aware that this is not a unique case, and is there any administrative reason why these matters should take so long?

The administrative reason is the one I have already given to my hon. Friend, the dispersal of the records some time ago, but I hope to give him an answer on this case before long.

That is just my point. If the matter had been dealt with promptly, the records would not have been dispersed.

Town And Country Planning

Cemetery Scheme, Goring-On-Thames

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. SKEFFINGTON-LODGE:

7. To ask the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware of the proposal of the Henley Rural District Council and the Goring Parish Council to provide a new cemetery on a site in Croft Road in the village of Goring-on-Thames; and whether, as this offends against good planning and is protested by many local inhabitants, he will represent to the authorities that they should not proceed with the scheme in its present form.

I want to apologise for a piece of bad English, which, I think, is a hang-over from my recent visit to the United States. The words "protested by" should read "opposed by."

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning
(Mr. King)

I understand that this proposal has not yet been referred to the Oxfordshire County Council, which is the Planning Authority for the area. Until I know their views I am unable to comment.

Kensington Square


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning for what reason his Department overruled the decision or the London County Council that Kensington Square was residential and permitted a development there which will destroy the character of the Square.

My right hon. Friend's decision on this case allows the construction of an unloading dock on land at the rear of houses on the north side of Kensington Square, with no direct access to the Square. It was based on an urgent need to relieve traffic congestion in the streets leading to the Square. The decision does not affect the residential use of any house in the Square nor will it, in my opinion, destroy the Present character of the Square.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the London County Council scheme would equally have prevented the congestion of traffic in the neighbourhood without destroying the Square?

It would have had that effect, but there were other disadvantages attaching to the scheme.

National Insurance

Death Benefit Claim, Stafford


asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, in considering the claim for industrial death benefit of Mr. E. H. Gill, of 75 Stone Road, Stafford, in respect of his son's death from typhoid fever, it was decided that his son's death arose out of, and in the course of his employment.

Yes, Sir.

Pensions (War Widows)


asked the Minister of National Insurance if lie will give an estimate of the cost of granting old age pensions in full to war widows of the 1914–18 war who, under the old insurance scheme, would have qualified for an unconditional pension of 10s. a week at age 70.

I regret that this information is not available and could not be obtained without special inquiry, which I do not think would be justified. These widows will in general be able to qualify for the new retirement pension: for those too old to contribute under the new scheme the right to a 10s. pension at 70 under the old arrangements has been preserved.

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that, instead of the 10s., these people should qualify for 26s.?

Assistance Board


asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that considerable delays are taking place in the granting of assistance by the National Assistance Board; and whether be will take steps to deal with this position.

Inquiries do not show that the time taken to deal with two cases which my hon. Friend has sent was unreasonable but I will let him have further particulars by letter in due course.

Employment (Redundant Workers)


asked the Minister of Labour if he will take steps to require all employers desirous of declaring workers redundant and dismissing them, to consult with his Department and to notify his Department of the reasons for dismissals and redundancy, and to give reasonable time for negotiations and consultation with the trade unions concerned or the consultative machinery established in the industry.

No, Sir. Employers are encouraged to give employment exchanges early notice of prospective redundancies and workers are encouraged through their trade unions to register as long as possible before discharge so that efforts may be made to find other work for them with little or no interval of unemployment, but I am unable to agree that it would be desirable or practicable to institute the compulsory measures suggested by my hon. Friend.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in certain cases the workers allege that they are dismissed without proper consultation; and does he not think that this matter merits further consideration in view of the recent industrial disputes, especially in the Manchester area?

This matter of joint consultation is always the subject of negotiation with employers and trade unions and we are applying as much persuasive pressure as we can to avoid those things mentioned by my hon. Friend.


Aged People (Care)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what accommodation is being provided for the care of aged people, incapable of looking after themselves and who do not require the services of trained nurses.

Local authorities have a duty under Section 21 of the National Assistance Act to provide residential accommodation for aged people who require care and attention which they cannot get in any other way. The authorities are to carry out this duty in accordance with schemes approved by the Secretary of State. The schemes so far received show that local authorities are anxious to make headway; but present restrictions on building limit developments mainly to the adaptation of existing properties.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the widespread indignation in the City of Glasgow because of the delay in trying to solve this very serious problem?

The City of Glasgow, of course, has a great many problems of building. It has houses, hospitals and feeding centres to build, and this is just one of the many problems which are dependent upon the progress of the building trade.

Has the right hon. Gentleman received the reports, which he indicated would reach him by mid-April, from local authorities on this problem of accommodation for aged people, which I raised some time ago; and has he any evidence to show that the old people will, at a reasonably early date, get this accommodation, which they need so very much?

That is still being investigated. The problem which the hon. Gentleman raised was that of the sick aged people, who come under the regional hospital board. I am going to try to get together all the bodies responsible for the old people to see whether all the different agencies can be fitted in.

Sheep Stocks


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking, in view of the meat shortage, to increase the number of sheep in Scotland.

Encouragement is given to farmers in Scotland to improve and increase their breeding sheep stocks by means of the hill sheep subsidy, by increased prices for fat sheep and for wool, by the provision of rams to crofting townships and by offering grants of half the cost of carrying out schemes for the improvement of hill sheep farms under the Hill Farming Act. Since June, 1947, after the heavy losses of the storms, the number of sheep in Scotland has increased by over 705,000.

Steps have been taken during and since the war to put as many sheep in deer forests as the deer forests can carry, and that policy is being pursued steadily.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree, in view of the present serious meat position, that the time is ripe for a comprehensive review of the maximum use of all our marginal hill and deer forest lands?

I am quite sure that farmers in the Highlands would be very surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman ask that question, because they have been pressed for the last five years and have been doing their maximum.

While the increase of food production is welcomed, will the right hon. Gentleman see that it is not done at the expense of the human population in the Highlands?

One of the limiting factors in the Highlands is that we cannot have cattle without human beings to look after them, and we must re-populate the Highlands with human beings before we can re-populate them with cattle.

School Classes


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of oversize classes in primary, first three years secondary and fourth year and beyond departments of Scottish schools at March, 1949; and what additional accommodation in each department will be available by September, 1949.

At December, 1948, there were 238 oversize classes in primary departments, 680 in the first three years of secondary departments, and 132 in the fourth and subsequent years. It is expected that about 250 primary and fully 300 secondary rooms under construction now will be available by September, 1949.

Building Apprentices (Instruction)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the education authorities presently providing day instruction facilities for building apprentices; how many apprentices are taking advantage of the facilities; and what is the estimated cost of these facilities to the Treasury for the current year.

Day instruction for a total of 1,048 building apprentices is provided by the Education Authorities of Dundee, Glasgow, Fife, Lanark and Stirling. Additional facilities will be provided by Edinburgh Education Authority next month, and it is hoped that provision will be made in Aberdeen next session. It is estimated that the grant from the Education (Scotland) Fund towards the cost of these facilities during the current year will amount to about £12,000.

Is the Secretary of State satisfied that he is getting the full co-operation of the building employers in this matter?

No, Sir, I am not satisfied. In many cases the building employers do not seem to appreciate the value of this work, and I think that they might do a little more to co-operate.

Prison Officers, Carstairs


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the serious delay which has occurred in dealing with representations from the Prison Officers' Association concerning the position of the staffs employed at Carstairs State Institution, including representations regarding official recognition and negotiating machinery; and whether he will take steps to expedite an immediate settlement of these outstanding matters.

Agreement has been reached over a large part of the field and steps are being taken to expedite a settlement on the matters still outstanding.



asked the Postmaster-General when he proposes to set up a television station in Scotland.

My right hon. Friend regrets there is nothing he can acid to the answer which he gave to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) on 6th April.

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the weight of population in the central belt in Scotland justifies some plan being made for some such station?

Council For Wales (Membership)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will now announce the name of the chairman and members of the Advisory Council for Wales; and when and where its first meeting will be held.


asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to announce the names of the chairman and members of the National Council for Wales.

I am circulating the complete list of 27 members of the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire in the OFFICIAL REPORT. In accordance with the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Lord President of the Council on 24th November, the 12 local authority members have been chosen from a panel of persons nominated by Welsh local authorities; and there are also nominees from the Joint Education Committee, the University of Wales, the National Eisteddfod Council, and the Welsh Tourists and Holidays Board. As representatives of the management side of Welsh industry and agriculture, I have appointed Mr. G. E. Aeron-Thomas, Mr. G. B. Bailey, Mr. E. Gibby, and Mr. W. Clayton Russon; and to represent the workers' side, Councillor Huw T. Edwards, Mr. E. H. Hickery, Mr. Edward Jones, and Mr. R. Ll. Jones. To fill the three remaining places I have appointed Mr. A. R. Davies, Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, and Mrs. Jennie Jenkins. Except in the case of the local authority representatives, the appointments will be for three years. In order to increase the opportunity for individual local authorities to have a representative on the Council, a third of the local authority members will retire each year under arrangements to be settled with the advice of the Council.

I am also glad to be able to tell the House that Mr. Huw Edwards has accepted my invitation to be Chairman of the Council for its first year; subsequent appointments will be made by the Council itself, subject to the proviso that the chairmanship shall alternate between North and South Wales. It will be for the Chairman to make the arrangements for the first Meeting.

While thanking the Prime Minister for the assistance the Government has at last given to Wales, may I ask whether the Council will be able to meet when and where it likes?

I presume so. I have stated that this is a matter for the Chairman to make the arrangements for the first meeting and, presumably, for subsequent meetings.

Can the Prime Minister give an assurance to the House that the proceedings of this Council will be made available to the public, and will not be secret and confidential?

Will the Prime Minister issue a directive to see that the proceedings of the Council will be available to the public?

I think the general view is that this should not be public, but that Press announcements should be made.

Following is the list:



  • Councillor Huw T. Edwards (one of the representatives of Industrial and Agricultural Workers).

Nominated by the Prime Minister

  • Mr. A. R. Davies.
  • Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards.
  • Mrs. Jennie Jenkins.

Representatives of Local Authorities

  • Alderman R. D. Briercliffe, J.P.
  • Councillor G. F. Hamer, C.B.E., J.P.
  • Alderman A. E. Harries.
  • Councillor Llewellyn Heycock.
  • Alderman W. D. Hughes, J.P.
  • Councillor Lewis Lewis.
  • Councillor Sidney Mitchell, J.P.
  • Councillor Penry Morris.
  • Councillor David Owen, M.B.E., J.P
  • Councillor O. Gwyrfai Owen.
  • Alderman J. J. Panes, O.B.E.
  • Alderman George Williams, C.B.E.

Representatives of Industry and Agriculture (Management)

  • Mr. G. E. Aeron-Thomas, O.B.E., D.L., J.P.
  • Mr. G. B. Bailey.
  • Mr. E. Gibby.
  • Mr. W. Clayton Russon, M.B.E.

Representatives of Industry and Agriculture (Workers')

  • Mr. E. H. Hickery.
  • Mr. Edward Jones, J.P.
  • Mr. R. LI. Jones, M.B.E.
  • In addition to the Chairman.


  • Alderman Joseph Jones, J.P., M.A. (nominated by Joint Education Committee).
  • Professor Henry Lewis, M.A., D.Lit. (nominated by University of Wales).

Representative of National Eisteddfod Council

  • Alderman W. Emyr Williams, LL.B.

Representative of Tourist and Holidays Board

  • Mr. William Jones, C.B.E.

Coloured People (Discrimination)


asked the Prime Minister if he will discuss with the Dominions Prime Ministers during their visit to this country the question of discrimination against coloured people.

Is the Prime Minister aware that racial discrimination has become so bad in South Africa—

On a point of Order. It has been constantly laid down by your predecessors, Mr. Speaker, that no question may be asked reflecting on the policy of the Government of one of His Majesty's Dominions. May I call attention to the fact that the hon. Member is so doing by a supplementary question?

Is it not the case that any question covering British subjects abroad can be asked in this House?

A self-governing Dominion is a Dominion responsible to itself, and not to this House. The noble Lord is correct. One could not criticise the Government of a self-governing Dominion.

I was wondering whether you would assist in the interpretation of that Ruling, Mr. Speaker? Does it mean that it would not be proper to put down a Question to the Prime Minister, or other appropriate Minister, about the protection of the rights of British subjects in British Dominions?

That is a purely hypothetical question and I would like to see it put down in writing at the Table before Riving an answer to it.

While appreciating the Prime Minister's difficulty in answering the Question on the Order Paper, might I ask if he will take the opportunity, if it arises, of making it known that the people of this country regard racial prejudice of any kind as abhorrent?

There is a young clergyman in this country who has been imprisoned in South Africa because of association with coloured people; is it in Order to ask the Prime Minister to raise that matter at the Dominion Conference?

There is no responsibility on the Prime Minister for that and Questions must be devoted to matters for which Ministers are responsible.

I understand that the Question on the Order paper addressed to the Prime Minister is a question about what he would discuss with Dominion Prime Ministers while they are in London and when my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) got an answer which he did not like, he put a supplementary question which was directed to elucidating the reasons why the answer was not as my hon. Friend would have liked it.

National Finance

Tax Payment (Legal Decision)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has now come to any conclusion on the observations of Mr. Justice Vaisey on 16th March in Sebel Products Limited v. Commissioners of Customs and Excise; and if he will indicate his future policy with regard to the retention by the Crown of tax paid under mistake of law.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) on Tuesday, 12th April.

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been considering the matter for six weeks, is it not time he came to a conclusion on a matter of common honesty?

Income Tax Arrears


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much Income Tax of two or more years duration still remains unpaid; how many individuals or firms are concerned; between what amounts do the sums range; and why this failure to collect Income Tax is allowed, in view of the fact that it means higher taxation for those who do pay.

The hon. Member will find the latest available information in the Inland Revenue Appropriation Accounts for the accounting year 1947–48 which were published recently. I cannot accept the implication in the latter part of the hon. Member's Question. As pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in paragraph 10 of his Report, the arrears due for collection show a marked fall between 1946 and 1947. The amount of tax due which is finally written off as irrecoverable is very small: in the year 1947, the total amount of Income Tax and other Inland Revenue duties remitted or written off as irrecoverable was only £1,500,000.

Is the Chancellor aware that concern is caused when publicity is given to the fact that certain individuals have been able to escape liability in this way? Is his Department able to take stronger measures to try to prevent these arrears accruing?

We take all the steps possible to prevent arrears accruing, but it is for the taxpayer to prevent the arrears accruing.

Tourist Traffic, Tangier (Currency)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the benefits which would accrue to our hard currency trade if British tourists were able to visit Tangier; and if he will extend the basic currency facilities to that territory.

No advantage to our hard currency trade would result from increased sterling earnings by Tangier; on the other hand, there would be disadvantages in the accumulation of sterling on this free currency market. I do not, therefore, propose to extend facilities for tourist travel to Tangier.

In view of the fact that the Chancellor's view entirely differs from mine, will he allow me to discuss the matter with him?

I have examined the matter to see what view is the correct one, and I have stated it.

Will the Chancellor be careful to distinguish between tourists and those who go there to test the hardness of the currency?

European Economic Co-Operation


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what conversations have taken place between Mr. Tasca of the Economic Co-operation Administration and the Organisation of European Economic Co-operation and His Majesty's Government, respectively.

Can that answer be assumed to mean that Mr. Tasca has come over to discuss the devaluation of European currencies and that there is no question of sterling being devalued?

There is no question of sterling being devalued, but I do not know what that has to do with Mr. Tasca.

Anglo-Portuguese Trade


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any further statement to make on the date by which Anglo-Portuguese trade will be fully restored.

As already announced in the Press, we have now made satisfactory arrangements with the Portuguese Government covering trade and payments during 1949, and the Portuguese authorities have resumed the grant of licences for United Kingdom goods. In view of internal measures taken by Portugal to improve her economic situation, Portugal could not agree to import United Kingdom goods in 1949 as freely as last year when our exports reached an exceptionally high level; imports of United Kingdom goods will now be regulated in accordance with quotas covering broad categories of goods.

Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say by how much the overall figure of Anglo-Portuguese trade will he reduced by this modification?

It is difficult to say, but it is anticipated that it will be somewhere around £4 million, which means that it will be very much bigger than in 1947.

Can the Chancellor further say what steps he is taking to see that our favourable balance with Portugal is not offset by further sterling purchases?

I have taken no steps to try to defeat the objects of the sterling area.

Has not the Chancellor taken steps to see that in purchases in the sterling area Portugal is not to be paid by us in gold?

Sterling Balances


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total of unfunded sterling balances at the latest convenient date.

The total of sterling liabilities to residents outside the United Kingdom, excluding liabilities blocked by agreement, amounted at the end of 1948 to about £1,750 million.

What steps is the Chancellor taking to see that these sums are blocked so that they cannot seep into the sterling area and become available to purchase unrequited exports?

We do not wish to block all the sterling balances; otherwise all the trade of this country would be stifled.

What steps is the Chancellor taking to see that these sums are not used for the purchase of unrequited exports from this country?

We allow the expenditure of these sums upon whatever goods the owners of the sums can purchase in these markets. They are not blocked liabilities; these are the unblocked liabilities.

Anglo-American Council On Productivity


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make available to the House the Report of the Second Session of the Anglo-American Council on Productivity recently concluded in the United States of America.

Yes, Sir. The Report in its printed form should be ready on Thursday, and I am arranging to have a copy placed in the Library.

Will the report of the meetings of this Council go to show that it is a great pity that such a council were not instituted very many years ago?

Petrol Tax (Tractors)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with a view to avoiding penalising, by way of tax, farmers who have petrol-burning tractors, he will now consider removing the tax from agricultural petrol, or, alternatively, giving a rebate of 6d. per gallon on petrol used for agricultural purposes.

Does the Chancellor realise that, generally speaking, the petrol-burning tractor is the most efficient, and why do the Government continue to handicap the increased production of food at home by putting a tax on the use of petrol for food and other agricultural purposes? Surely there is some sense somewhere?

I should not like to become a partisan between the merits of the Diesel and the petrol engine.

Will the Chancellor see me afterwards? I have a great deal to tell him.

Income And Expenditure


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement explaining the differences in Table 8 of Command Paper No. 7649 and Table 5 of Command Paper No. 7371, National Income and Expenditure of the United Kingdom, 1948 and 1947, respectively, which, among other things, gives the 1947 wages before Income Tax as 42 per cent. and 40 per cent., respectively, and the profits, interest and rent as 33 per cent. and 41 per cent., respectively.

The explanation lies in the titles of the two tables. Table 5 of Command Paper No. 7371 gives the allocation of private income from work and property: Table 8 of Command Paper No. 7649 deals with personal income only. The earlier table therefore includes (in interest, profits and rent) that part of the national income which is neither paid out to persons nor accrues to public authorities as net income from property. A minor cause of difference between the percentages is the inclusion of the pay of the Armed Forces in Table 8 of Command Paper No. 7649.

While I appreciate that reply, may I ask the Chancellor whether in this year's White Paper there is a table comparable with that of last year, which shows the figures?

If the hon. Member will put that question on the Order Paper, I will try to answer it.

Playing Fields


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of the great need for more playing fields in the industrial towns and cities and the great work done by the National Playing Fields Association in helping to buy and equip playing fields if he will now grant this association the sum of money promised to them by his predecessor.

The Minister of Education is empowered by statute to assist the purchase and equipment of playing-fields, and Parliament has provided funds which have enabled him to make considerable use of his powers. A direct Treasury grant for this purpose would not, therefore, be appropriate, and my predecessor was misunderstood if he was thought to be promising such a grant when he referred to the provision made for this purpose in the annual Estimates.

Inland Revenue Office, Llandudno


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the present position with regard to the move of the offices of the Charity and Foreign Section of the Chief Inspector's (Claims) Branch of the Inland Revenue from Llandudno to Liverpool.

A suitable building has now been found in Liverpool and it is hoped that it will be ready for occupation in the autumn.

Central Office Of Information (Lecturers)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the Central Office of Information, in selecting applicants to lecture on their behalf, inquire of them their political views; and whether these are taken into consideration.

No, Sir. But applicants are asked whether they take an active part in party politics and, if so, they are not employed as lecturers.

Can the Minister say whether any political parties are invited to submit lists of lecturers?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that almost invariably the person who has no politics is a Tory?

Will my right hon. Friend say whether the same scrutiny is made of the political opinions of journalists who are sent abroad to edit British papers?

I have made it quite clear in my original answer that the test is "an active part in party politics."

Trade And Commerce

Whisky (Exports To Tangier)


asked the President of the Board of Trade how much whisky was exported from Great Britain to Tangier in 1948.

I regret that this information is not available as exports to Tangier are not separately distinguished in the trade returns.

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that despite the fact that Tangier is prepared to buy large quantities of whisky for dollars he has no idea of how much dollar currency we can earn in this way?

The point is that the returns for Tangier are included with those for Morocco. The figures as a whole are 3,609 proof gallons valued at £8,092. I have not separate figures for Tangier.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that whisky can be sold in Tangier for dollars, which so far as I know does not apply to Morocco? Would it not be worth while for this country to earn dollars in that way?

The Question I was asked was not concerned with the earning of dollars but with actual export figures, which I am unable to give for the reasons I have stated.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary look into the matter, with special reference to the dollar earning possibilities?

Patents (Swan Committee)


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many engineers or inventors served on the Swan Committee, upon whose report the Patents Bill was founded.

Five of the nine members of the Swan Committee were engineers or technologists. I have no information whether any of the members were inventors in the sense of making inventions for which patents were granted.

Overalls, Cheltenham


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that painters and decorators in the Cheltenham area are unable to obtain the overalls they need; and if he will take steps to increase the supply.

There is a general scarcity of these overalls due to difficulties in the supply of the cloth. All practicable steps are being taken to increase production of this cloth, but the needs of the export drive, especially to the dollar areas, must take precedence.

Cannot more regard be had for the needs of workers in this country, and a little more allowed to the home market, as this is causing great hardship and inconvenience?

I appreciate that, and we are doing what we can to try to alleviate the position.

Barrier, Norfolk Broads (Timber)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that a barrier of timber and steel was erected across Black Horse Dyke, leading from the River Bure to Hoveton Little Broad, on the Norfolk Broads, between 16th February and 11th March, 1949, particulars of which have been sent to him; how much timber was used in this operation; what kind of timber was used; where it was obtained; and whether a licence was issued for the use of this timber for the purpose of the erection of this barrier.

No timber licence has been issued in connection with the operation referred to; but I am making inquiries and will write to my hon. Friend when they are completed.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that we in Norfolk would like to have an opportunity of dealing with the Broads ourselves without quite so much assistance from Lowestoft?

Imported Wool (Price)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the average price of wool per pound imported into the country.

The average value of raw sheeps' and lambs' wool imported into the United Kingdom during the month of March, 1949, as calculated, from the Official Trade and Navigation Accounts for that month, was 38.3 pence per lb.

Then can the Parliamentary Secretary explain why, in view of the figure of 3s. 2d. per lb., the price of the raw material in a suit is between 40s. and 45s. per lb., which amounts to about £15? Can the Parliamentary Secretary explain the difference between those figures?

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that the average price which I have given him covers wool in all kinds of conditions. It is not easy to deduce, from the price I have given him, any straight argument as to the price of wool in the finished suit.

Telephone Apparatus (Exports)


asked the Minister of Supply what value of telephone exchange equipment was exported to hard and soft currency countries, respectively, in 1948; and what proportion of our total production did this represent.

Exports of telephone exchange equipment are not recorded separately. The figures for telephone apparatus of all kinds are: hard currency markets, £1,130,000; sterling area, £7,250,000; other countries, £3,630,000. These exports represent slightly more than half the total United Kingdom production in 1948.

In view of the comparatively trivial amount of benefit which is to be gained from these exports will not the hon. Gentleman divert supplies to the home market, which is urgently in need of them?

I do not agree that these amounts are trivial. Together they amount to about £12 million, which is substantial, but in view of the increased production of telephone apparatus there will be more for the home market this year.

Is the Minister aware that advertisements in telephone kiosks suggest to the public that 66 per cent of this equipment is being exported?

No, I am not aware of that. That is a question which should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General. It depends on what type of equipment is being considered.

Surely the public should not be misguided like this. They wonder why they cannot get this equipment and they are told it is for export; 66 per cent., when the Minister's figures are not as much as that.