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Written Answers

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 26 April 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 26th April, 1949

British Army (Soldiers' Accounts)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the accounts of other ranks who left Malaya on 17th February, 1948, were not received in this country by 23rd March for which reason no pay could be drawn by the men concerned; and whether he will take steps to ensure that such accounts are in future sent back by air mail to avoid unnecessary hardship.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to soldiers who left Malaya on 17th February, 1949. I am aware that not all the accounts were received in the United Kingdom by 23rd March, but the procedure in force allows all soldiers to receive an advance of pay and ration allowance on arrival in the United Kingdom, sufficient to cover the first 14, 21 or 28 days' leave. Those who landed at Liverpool on 19th March, 1949, were given such advances. The accounts were in fact sent by air mail and with a few exceptions were received in the United Kingdom before a second payment was due. In the few cases reported where the accounts had not arrived before the date on which a second payment might be due, my right hon. Friend has called for an investigation into the causes of delay. Instructions to overseas paymasters require that immediately notification of embarkation for release or reversion to the home establishment is received from the soldiers' unit the account should be despatched by air mail.




asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied that existing pasteurisation plants for milk in Scotland have proved satisfactory; how many such plants there are; and what percentage of milk sold to the public is tubercular-tested, pasteurised and natural.

There are 100 pasteurising or heat-treatment plants in Scotland. The milk from these is tested fortnightly and the results generally are satisfactory. Of the milk sold off Scottish farms, some 70 per cent. is from tuberculin-tested herds. Milk as sold to the public comprises approximately 10 per cent. sold as "T.T.," 70 per cent. pasteurised or heat-treated, and 20 per cent. sold as ordinary milk, non-pasteurised.

Rural Water Supplies


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many water schemes have now been approved in Scotland and how many refused; for how many grants have already been given by his Department; and what is the total sum involved.

Up to date 177 schemes have been approved under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act, 1944, and so far grants amounting to £5,393,000 have been offered in respect of 99 of them. The number of applications refused is 31, most of them because they did not relate to rural localities as required by the Act.

Local Elections


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has adopted the formal scheme for county council elections for use in the case of town council elections, where definite Tuesdays are specified regarding notices for nomination and withdrawal of candidates, instead of specific dates.

Under the Representation of the People Act, 1948, the latest times for nomination and withdrawal in both county council and town council elections are 4 p.m. on the third and second Tuesday respectively preceding the day of election.

Town And Country Planning (Appeal)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning when he expects to be able to give a decision on the appeal of Mrs. Colyer of Bexley Heath about which the hon. Member for Bexley wrote to him.

The decision on this appeal was issued on 7th April, and a copy has been sent to my hon. Friend.

Trade And Commerce

Retail Prices


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give a list of those household commodities the retail prices of which have fallen, at the nearest convenient date, as compared with 1947; and by how much such prices have declined.

Complete records of retail prices are not available. Prices of certain representative goods are collected in order to measure, by means of index numbers, changes in the retail prices of certain groups of goods. None of the group index numbers published by the Ministry of Labour and National Service shows a fall compared with June, 1947, when the index numbers were commenced, but there have been indications of lower prices in certain household and other nonfood items included in the groups.

Cotton And Rayon Cloths


asked the President of the Board of Trade why cheap cotton and rayon fabrics are scarce whilst there is a good supply of expensive material; and if he will take steps to improve the supply of cheap fabrics.

The demands of export, especially to dollar markets, for the various kinds of cloth must be met. As regards home supplies the more expensive non-utility cloths do not sell so quickly as the utility materials, but the bulk of home supplies is in utility, and we are taking all suitable steps to increase the production of utility cloth.

Small Dwellings Acquisition

asked the Minister of Health which local authorities in England are operating the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act; and what total sum of money was advanced and what was the rate of interest.

Six hundred and eighty-four local authorities in England and Wales operate the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts. The total amount of advances made under these Acts and the parallel provisions in the Housing Acts between 1st January, 1919, and the 31st March, 1945, the latest date for which returns were made was £106,973,481. The rate of interest on the advances varied from time to time in accordance generally with the variation in the rate of interest on local authority loans.

Airmen's Wives (Electoral Registration)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that Air Ministry Order A238 presented no method by which the wives of members of the Royal Air Force stationed in this country but away from their homes, may vote at elections; and how it is proposed to enable them to vote.

Yes. Wives of members of the R.A.F. in the United Kingdom do not have a service qualification, and the same rules apply to them as to other civilians. If they are not living at their qualifying address at the time of a Parliamentary election, they may vote by post if they apply to their registration officer to be treated as absent voters. Application forms can be obtained from the appropriate registration officer.

Agriculture (Linseed)

asked the Minister of Agriculture why linseed was omitted from the last form of census to be completed by farmers.

The March census is not intended to be a comprehensive inquiry and is confined to the major crops in the forecasts of acreages to be grown. It has been decided, however, to include linseed in the March 1950 returns.

Ministry Of Works

Cement Manufacture, Scotland

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what prospect there is of the manufacture of cement being commenced in the West of Scotland near Oban in order to produce this commodity for the use of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board or any other local demand.

I have been asked to reply. So far as I am aware there is no immediate prospect of the manufacture of cement near Oban.

Employees, Sellafield

asked the Minister of Works what is the system of remuneration of his Department's and of his contractors' employees at Sellafield; what are the average weekly earnings including bonus; how are bonuses calculated and when paid; what are the average hours worked; and what reward is given for overtime.

Employees of the Ministry of Works and of its contractors at Sellafield are paid according to the rates laid down by the National Joint Council of the Building Industry for that district. The average weekly earnings, including bonus, range from £7 to £8 3s. 10d. for tradesmen and from £6 5s. 10d. to £6 19s. 6d. for labourers. Bonuses are calculated according to the schedules agreed between the Department, or each contractor, and the local joint production council, and are paid seven to 11 days in arrears. Working is to a standard 47-hour week but about one-fifth of the em-

The information regarding the sugar refining capacity of the United Kingdom is as follows (All the undermentioned figures are expressed in terms of refined sugar in tons):
1939End 1945Present Time
1. Sugar refineries, annual capacity2,100,0001,900,0002,300,000
2. Beet sugar factories: (18 factories of which 12 white sugar and six raw sugar):
(a) Campaign production based on normal yield500,000450,000500,000
3. (b) Off-season refining: (12 factories):
(i)Potential capacity750,000750,000800,000
(ii) Realistic capacity400,000300,000400,000
For off-season refining "potential capacity" is a meaningless figure, as it assumes that at each of the 12 white sugar factories, off-season refining could be carried on simultaneously without a break from February to August. In practice, this is quite impossible, owing to the large amount of maintenance and repairs which have to be carried out each year after the close of the beet campaign. Apart from this, only half of the white ployees work up to 12 hours' overtime, as agreed with the local joint overtime committee, and are paid at overtime rates as laid down by the national working rules for the building industry.

Food Supplies

Sugar Refining

asked the Minister of Food what the sugar refining capacity of the United Kingdom was at the outbreak of war, or at any convenient date during 1939; what it was at the end of the war; and what it is at the present time, distinguishing in each case between the capacity of refineries, the normal campaign production capacity of beet sugar factories, and the off-season refining capacity of the factories, and adding in the case of present day capacity an estimate of any increase which could be secured by alteration of raw-sugar factories.

pursuant to her reply, [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1949; Vol. 462, c. 155] supplied the following information:sugar factories are economically well situated for handling imported raw sugar. The six raw sugar factories are not equipped for producing refined sugar, either in the campaign or in the off-season, and to adapt them for a refining would be a costly and lengthy business. If adapted, the potential capacity of these six factories for off-season refining would be about 450,000 tons, but a more realistic figure would be 200,000 tons.

Animal Feedingstuffs

asked the Minister of Food if he will give a table showing the total, in tons, of animal feedingstuffs available for the agricultural industry during 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948, under the following headings: wheat, wheatenings and offals, barley, oats, maize, oil cakes and meals, other imported feedingstuffs, other home-grown feedingstuffs, stating, where appropriate, the amounts imported.

I am afraid the answer is too long for publication in the OFFICIAL REPORT, so I am sending the hon. Member a copy and placing another in the Library of the House.

Identity Cards (Stamping)

asked the Minister of Food if he will identify the document by which his officials were authorised, under S.R. & O., 1941, No. 991, by the Registrar-General to stamp or otherwise mark identity cards.

The document in question was a letter dated 27th January, 1949, from the Registrar-General's Department approving the arrangement.

Canadian Apples

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that there is a large surplus of apples for sale in Nova Scotia and, also, that there are some 175,000 cases of canned apples to be disposed of; and what steps he is taking to make arrangements that a proportion of this stock is bought for the United Kingdom.

I am aware that there are surpluses of fresh and canned apples for sale in Nova Scotia. We should be glad to buy some Canadian apples if we could spare the dollars but at present we have to use our limited supply of dollars for more essential imports, particularly wheat and bacon.

Control Commission, Germany (Accommodation)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has considered the circumstances in which 31 Mess, Bunde, C.C.G.(B.E.), was rendered an uneconomical unit in order to make it available as a married quarter; if he is prepared to accept the decision of the chief administrative officer to insist upon the closing of this mess in spite of the methods employed by the local administration to make this mess with its amenities peculiarly suitable for the single element, in order that it may become the perquisite of one officer and his wife; and, in view of the injustice thus done to the members of 31 Mess, what action he is taking to remedy the matter.

The mess in question has been closed because the number of single persons to be accommodated has fallen to three. It was chosen for closure after proper and careful consideration and my right hon. Friend cannot accept any suggestion that improper methods have been used. The building is suitable for use as a married quarter, and will be so used. There is a waiting list of families eligible for such quarters.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is satisfied that the rearrangement of the living accommodation in the Control Commission for Germany does not involve hardship for the single and favouritism for the married element.

Yes. As the Commission grows smaller, it is logical and necessary to reduce the number of messes for accommodating single persons and to concentrate those that are retained so as to simplify administration.

Purchase Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state in full the commodities upon which Purchase Tax is now levied; and the amount of tax on each article or group of articles named.

The commodities chargeable with Purchase Tax are specified in Part I of the Eighth Schedule to the Finance Act, 1948. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy on which the rate of tax now chargeable has been inserted against each item.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in his considerations of a scheme for meeting retailers' losses following a Purchase Tax reduction, he will consider the advisability of making Purchase Tax changes at other times than Budget time, thereby eliminating public anticipation.

Productivity Campaign (Advertisement)

asked the Lord President of the Council if his attention has been drawn to advertisements for a productivity campaign in which a police officer is depicted as beckoning workers into a factory; and, in view of the resentment which this has caused to workers, if he will give an assurance that advertisements of this nature are not published in future.

asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury if his attention has been drawn to the advertisements issued by the Economic Information Unit on behalf of His Majesty's Government cartooning a police officer; whether he was consulted before these advertisements were issued; and, in view of the adverse effect they are having on recruitment for the police force, what steps he is taking to see that advertisements of this sort are not published in future.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer was fully aware of plans for the current productivity advertising, which has his approval. There is no evidence that the advertisements have adversely affected police recruiting, or caused resentment among workers, either during the three days which elapsed between their first appearance and the day when the hon. Member put down his Questions, or since.