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Written Answers

Volume 464: debated on Thursday 28 April 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 28th April, 1949


School Buildings


asked the Minister of Education what is the percentage of substandard school buildings in the whole country and the comparable percentage for schools under the jurisdiction of the Berkshire County Council.

Denominational Instruction


asked the Minister of Education whether he has now been able to complete his investigation as to the conditions under which denominational instruction is being given in the Oxford High School.

Teachers (Pensions)


asked the Minister of Education if he will estimate the additional cost entailed if teachers were permitted to retire at 55 years of age on full pension, as now existing; and what would be the estimated additional cost assuming the teacher's contribution were increased to 7½ per cent. or more.

This information is not available and could be obtained only by means of a special actuarial inquiry.


asked the Minister of Education if he has figures showing the percentage of teachers who die before reaching the age of 60.

It is estimated that about one quarter of one per cent. of serving teachers die each year before reaching the age of 60.


asked the Minister of Education how many teachers apply for a breakdown pension during the course of a year.

Closed Hospital Beds


asked the Minister of Health how many of the 60,000 beds at present closed for want of staff are in tuberculosis sanatoria, fever hospitals, general hospitals and other specialised institutions, respectively.

The number of beds closed for want of staff in hospitals in Great Britain on 31st December, 1948, was 59,903, made up as follows:

Tuberculosis Sanatoria5,669
Fever Hospitals15,915
General Hospitals21,642
Other specialised institutions16,677


asked the Minister of Health how much of the £15 million required to staff and maintain the 60,000 hospital beds that are at present closed, he has included in his estimates for the coming year.

The annual budgets of the hospital management committees do not specify separately anticipated expenditure on the re-opening of closed beds, so that I am unable to give the information desired by the hon. Member.

Building Permits (Rural Areas)

asked the Minister of Health whether, in the interests of the advancement of younger men, he will arrange for the issue of building permits on a more generous scale to elderly farmers past active management of large farms who are anxious to retire to smaller holdings.

Local authorities already have discretion to issue house-building licences within their quotas where they consider the need justifies such action, and they have been informed that priority should be given to applications recommended by the County Agricultural Committee in the interests of food production.


Foot-And-Mouth Disease


asked the Minister of Agriculture what precautions he is taking to secure that foot-and-mouth disease is not introduced into this country by importations of carcases of pork from the Continent.

I assume that the hon. Member refers to prospective imports from France. An agreement has been made with the French authorities, which applies to fresh or frozen beef and mutton as well as pork, providing that animals to be slaughtered for export shall not be drawn from the vicinity of any farm where foot-and-mouth disease is known to exist; that they shall be subject to veterinary examination before and after slaughter; that they shall not be slaughtered at the same time as other animals; and that the live animals and carcases destined for export shall be completely segregated from all others at the abattoirs. These arrangements, in the opinion of my veterinary advisers, provide a reasonable safeguard against the introduction of foot-and-mouth or other disease into this country.

Fruit Growing (Advice)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the value of fresh fruit in our dietary, he will instruct county agricultural executive committees to provide for private growers advice as to the care of fruit trees and facilities for spraying when required.

The responsibility for the provision of instruction and advice in production matters for domestic producers rests with the local education authorities. I am sending to my hon. Friend a copy of a circular to these bodies issued jointly by my Department and the Ministry of Education on 28th August, 1946.

Pick-Up Balers And Combine Harvesters

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many International 50-foot T pick-up balers and 8-foot Massey-Harris combine harvesters have been distributed during the past 12 months; and what are the principles laid down by the county agricultural executive committees with regard to such allocation.

It is not the practice to disclose figures relating to individual suppliers. The total numbers of all types of new pick-up balers and combine harvesters, both home produced and imported, distributed in the year ended 31st March, 1949, were rather more than 1,500 and 2,000 respectively. Allocation by county agricultural executive committees is on the basis of the best interests of food production. All relevant factors are taken into account in selecting applicants, but these factors vary from county to county in accordance with differing local conditions and needs.

Sheep (Southern Counties)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps are being taken to remedy the shortage of shepherds and of hurdled flocks of sheep in the Down counties of Southern England.

In August, 1947, a special increase of 5d. per lb. in the price of fat sheep was made in order to promote the speedy recovery of the sheep population, but no special steps are being taken to remedy the shortage of shepherds and hurdled sheep in the Down counties of Southern England.

North Sea Fishing

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will satisfy himself that measures substantially equivalent to the licensing provisions proposed in the White Fish and Herring Industry Act have been taken by the governments of other countries interested in white fish fishing in the North Sea, before he enforces that Act on our fishermen; and to what extent it is estimated that fishing in the North Sea is being restricted as a result of all these measures.

The licensing provisions of Section 2 of the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1948, will not be enforced unless equivalent measures are taken by the Governments of countries interested in the North Sea. The general effect of such measures, as recommended by the Standing Advisory Committee, would be to restrict fishing power to 85 per cent. of pre-war, but as several countries have not yet signified their willingness to adopt them, they are not yet generally effective.

National Finance

Cost Of Living


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is prepared to appoint a standing committee on the cost of living and the conditions of the people.

Japanese External Debt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the value of Japanese assets blocked in this country; and whether he is now prepared to compensate British holders of Japanese external bonds out of these assets.

The true net value of Japanese assets in this country is estimated at approximately £1-£1¼ million. The disposal of these assets is one aspect of a general reparations settlement with Japan and I am not prepared to give priority to the particular claims referred to.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will approach the United States and other Allied Governments concerned with a view to initiating negotiations between the Japanese Government and representatives of its foreign creditors concerning a resumption of payments on the Japanese external debt.

I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by such an approach, so long as a considerable deficit on the Japanese balance of payments is being met at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Building Plots (Development Value)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any further statement to make about the treatment of builders and owners of building plots under the financial provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts.

Yes. It has previously been announced that persons owning building plots on 1st July, 1948, who start to build a house for occupation by themselves or an immediate relative by 7th January, 1952, will receive a payment from the £300 million equal to the development value of the plot for the erection of the house, and may have their development charge set off against that payment. It has been decided to extend the date for this arrangement from 7th January, 1952, to 1st January, 1953.In addition, special arrangements will be made for persons who on 1st July, 1948, owned a single building plot and no other building land. If such an owner is prevented from building a house on his plot because the plot is compulsorily acquired, or a previous planning permission is revoked, before 1st January, 1953, he also will be entitled to a payment from the £300 million equal to the development value in the plot for the erection of one house; and if he starts to build a house on another site before 1st January, 1953, he will be entitled to have the development charge set off against that payment, in so far as it is sufficient to cover the charge.These arrangements (a full payment from the £300 million and the right to have development charge set off against it) will also apply to an owner on 1st July, 1948, of a single building plot as above defined if he either sells the plot for immediate development and himself assumes liability for the payment of development charge, or himself builds a house on the plot and sells the site and house together at a price inclusive of charge, provided in either case that the charge is determined before 1st January, 1953.It has previously been announced that registered builders will receive a payment from the £300 million equal to the development value, and may set off against it development charge meanwhile incurred, in respect of an area of land equal to that which they developed during a five-year pre-war period. It has now been decided to extend this scheme beyond registered builders, and the Central Land Board have been given a discretion to apply it to developers of housing and industrial estates (such as most housing associations and some trading estates) who can satisfy them that it is their practice to assume full practical and financial responsibility for the construction of buildings on their own land and for their sale or letting when completed. These cases will have to be dealt with by individual application to the Board.All these arrangements apply with the necessary modifications to Scotland as well as England and Wales. The Central Land Board are about to issue fresh pamphlets explaining the arrangements in greater detail, and copies will be placed in the Vote Office.The closing date for the submission of claims against the £300 million is 30th June next, and I wish to emphasise that none of the concessions announced above can be of any effect if the owner concerned has not submitted his claim to the Central Land Board in time, since he will not then be entitled to any payment. I would also take this opportunity of emphasising that every owner on 1st July, 1948, of land which had a development value, whether or not he is likely to be affected by the arrangements now announced, should take immediate steps to ensure that his claim is submitted before it is too late.

Education Abroad (Currency Arrangements)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will give particulars of the foreign exchange facilities for the education of British children in European countries in 1949–50.

Yes. A special allowance of foreign exchange will be available for children to attend schools during the school year ending July, 1950, in any of the following countries: Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey. The maximum allowance to cover the whole year will be £240 for each child. The basic travel allowance of £50 per annum for children of 15 or over, or £35 for those under 15, may be used to supplement the special allowance. Applications for the grant of the special allowance should be made to any bank in the United Kingdom where full details of the arrangements are available.

Civil Service

Temporary Engagements

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many of the 706,580 non-industrial civil servants at 1st January, 1949, were on temporary engagements; what was the corresponding number at 1st July, 1947, or some other more convenient date; and what further reductions it is estimated will be made by the end of 1950.

The number of temporary civil servants was 324,724 on 1st January, 1949, and 421,600 on 1st July, 1947. The number of additional posts expected to have been established by the end of 1950 under central schemes already agreed is 38,000. The number of additional posts to be established under departmental schemes in the same period cannot be estimated centrally.

Established Staff

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what increase there has been since 1st July, 1947, in the number of established non-industrial civil servants; to what extent temporary civil servants have been appointed during this period to vacancies in establishments; and what are the prospects of such appointments during 1949 and 1950.

The increase in the number of established non-industrial civil servants between 1st July, 1947, and 1st January, 1949, was 102,783. I regret that the further information desired by my hon. Friend is not available centrally.

Petrol (Commercial Travellers)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the maximum monthly mileage for which a petrol allowance may be granted to a commercial traveller; what is the maximum percentage increase permitted for physical disability; and whether he is satisfied that such hard-and-fast limits are fair and in the national interest in the case of older men possessing long experience and intricate technical knowledge in engineering and similar industries.

The maximum supplementary allowance authorised for a commercial traveller under the recently increased scale provides for approximately 500 miles per month. As from 1st May the standard ration for the next six months will also be available to commercial travellers giving them an additional 540 miles of motoring in that period. They will also be permitted a further 270 miles by the bonus allowance announced recently. In cases of physical disability, the allowance for business purposes may be increased up to 50 per cent. according to the nature and degree of disability. These amounts represent the most that can be allowed in the present circumstances.

Singapore (Municipal Franchise)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total adult population in Singapore; and what were the franchise qualifications in the recent municipal elections.

I cannot give a figure for adults but the total population of the Singapore municipal area is approximately 680,000. The municipal franchise is open to persons over 21, who being British subjects or having been born in a British or British protected territory in Malaya or Borneo, have not identified themselves in any way with any foreign State, for example by holding a foreign passport. In addition there is a residential qualification of three years and a property qualification as follows. A voter must be: (1) the owner of immovable property within the Municipality of an assessed annual value of $60, or, (2) the occupier of premises of an annual value of not less than $120, or (3) the occupier of part of premises for which he pays a monthly rent of not less than $10, or (4) the occupier of or lodger in premises for which he pays a monthly sum of not less than $60 in respect of board and lodging.