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Written Answers

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 4th May, 1949

Airways Corporations (Coaches)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he is aware that the present policy of the Airways Corporations of garaging their coaches in the residential quarters of big cities causes much unnecessary discomfort; and if he will make a statement on the general policy he has directed the Corporations to pursue in this connection.

I am sure that the causing of unnecessary discomfort is avoided. In garaging their coaches, the Corporations have to comply with the requirements of the appropriate traffic authorities, and it would not be appropriate for my noble Friend to intervene.

Food Supplies

Tinned Meat (Export)


asked the Minister of Food what quantity of meat or offal, tinned in this country, was exported to Southern Rhodesia during the last 12 months to the latest available date.

Farm Workers (Seasonal Allowances)


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that there was considerable dissatisfaction last summer over the method of issuing the seasonal rations to farm workers; and what plans he has made to bring about improved arrangements for this summer.

The method of issuing these seasonal allowances was discussed with the Advisory Committee of the T.U.C. last summer and I have now arranged that applications shall in future be accepted not only from an employer but from his nominee, from a representative of the workers or from any other responsible person, such as a union official acting on their behalf. It will still, however, be necessary for the employer to certify the application. A new pamphlet setting out these arrangements has been sent to the trade unions concerned and to local food offices for distribution to farmers and their employees.

Flour (Extraction Rate)


asked the Minister of Food whether, having regard to the urgent need for increasing the home production of meat, he is now prepared to consider reducing the extraction rate of flour from 85 per cent. to 82½ per cent. thus producing an extra 150,000 tons of feedingstuffs, which is equivalent to 25,000 tons of pork, bacon and fats, whilst at the same time improving the baking and keeping qualities of the loaf.

The possibility of lowering the extraction rate depends on the supply of wheat and on whether it is on balance better to use our available foreign exchange to buy increased amounts of wheat or of course grains in order to maintain or increase the animal feedingstuffs ration.

Animal Feedingstuffs


asked the Minister of Food the quantity and cost of the pig-meat to be imported from the United States of America this year and if at the same time coarse grains are to be imported on Marshall Aid account to make possible an immediate increase in the issue of feedingstuffs to pigs here so as to avoid such extravagant use of dollars in the future.

The import programme of animal feedingstuffs for 1949–50 has not yet been settled, but as I have already stated, it may well include some dollar, as well as non-dollar feedingstuffs. We are in fact already shipping some United States maize to this country. I cannot agree that our present purchase of pig-meat in the United States represents an extravagant use of dollars.

Oatmeal (Export)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will encourage the export of oatmeal and oat products having regard to the present over-production of oatmeal for home requirements.

Post Office

Sub-Offices, Norfolk


asked the Postmaster-General how many sub-post offices in the County of Norfolk are temporarily closed, and in which villages; and what steps he is taking to have such sub-post offices re-opened.

I much regret that 19 village sub-post offices closed temporarily at various dates since the commencement of the last war remain closed because it has been impossible so far to fill the vacant sub-postmasterships. Every effort to find suitable candidates continues. Following is the list of closed sub-post offices: Brackon Ash, Burlingham, Earsham, Great Fransham, Haveringland, Old Walsingham, Raveningham, Scottow, Scratby, Sparham, Starston, Stradsett, Strumpshaw, Swannington, Tattersett, Thuxton, Upper Sheringham, Weston, White Horse Common.

Telephone Installations, Bury

asked the Postmaster-General what was the average time taken in Bury, during the last financial year, between the making of an application for the installation of a telephone and its installation.

During the last financial year, the average time from the application for a telephone at Bury to its installation varied from four to eight weeks, where line plant was available, according to the priority of the application.

Royal Air Force

Auxiliary Force (Motorcars)


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will now make a statement with regard to the licensing and insurance of motor cars owned by members of the Auxiliary Air Force and used in connection with their duties.

It has been decided that members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force who have to pay motor car licences and insurance at the full rates when they draw supplementary coupons solely for journeys in connection with Air Force duties will be refunded the difference between the full rates and the reduced rates otherwise obtainable. Details of the scheme will be published shortly.

Berlin Air Lift (Pilots' Conditions)


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will take steps to improve the conditions, especially in regard to food and clothing of the Royal Air Force pilots on the air lift, in view of the details which have been sent to him.

I am satisfied from personal observation that conditions are generally good. If the hon. Gentleman will send me details of the unit referred to in his letter, I will be glad to make further inquiries.

Maltese Airmen (Pay And Allowances)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps he is taking to allay the disquiet in Malta due to Maltese in the Royal Air Force on postponement of release engagement receiving pay and allowances far below that paid to airmen who have signed on for Regular engagement or United Kingdom airmen who have signed on for postponement of release engagement; and what is the difference per day in the pay and allowances of Maltese Regular airmen and Maltese serving on postponement of release engagement.

I am not aware of any disquiet; Maltese airmen who enlisted on normal Regular engagements for service throughout the world receive the same pay and allowances as United Kingdom airmen. Maltese airmen who enlisted for limited service in the Malta Command receive lower rates. The difference in pay and allowances varies according to rank, number of children and so on. I will write to my hon. Friend giving examples of the differences.

Coal Industry (Production Costs)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has any figures available to show how the average cost of production of deep-mined coal compares with the average cost of production of opencast coal.

For the first three quarters of 1948—the latest period for which full figures are available—the average total production cost of deep-mined coal is 45s. 5d. a ton and for opencast coal 44s. 8d. a ton.

Raoc Establishments (Staff)

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) how many civilians were employed as industrial staff at home Royal Army Ordnance Corps establishments on 1st January, 1949; how many of these were on temporary engagements; and what were the corresponding figures on 1st July, 1947.(2) what was the increase between 1st July, 1947, and 1st January, 1949, in the number of established industrial staff at home Royal Army Ordnance Corps establishments; to what approximate extent it is proposed to increase their number and reduce that of temporary staff during 1949; and whether a substantial proportion of appointments to establishment are likely to be made from those now on temporary engagements.

Thirty-one thousand, four hundred and forty-five civilians were employed as industrial staff at home R.A.O.C. establishments on 1st January, 1949; in addition, 3,558 European volunteer workers were employed; on 1st July, 1947, 29,760 civilians were employed. There were no established industrial employees in any War Department establishment on 1st July, 1947. On 16th January, 1948, a scheme was agreed on the Joint Co-ordinating Committee for Government Industrial Establishments which for the first time gave a measure of establishment to Government industrial employees. This agreed scheme provided among other things for the establishment of up to 16,000 War Department industrial employees. It was subsequently agreed with the trade unions represented on the War Department Industrial Council that the first 16,000 employees would be selected for establishment on the basis of length of Government service irrespective of their grade, trade or the unit at which they were serving. In consequence no specific allocation of established posts has been made to R.A.O.C. establishments, but some 6,000 industrials employed therein have already been nominated for establishment, which will reckon from 16th January, 1948. As length of service is the agreed basis of selection, appointments to established posts are made exclusively from serving industrial employees.

Trade And Commerce

Hearing Aids (Exports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many hearing appliances and of what value were exported from this country during 1948.

I regret that this information is not available for the year 1948, as hearing appliances were not separately recorded in the trade returns for that year. Since 1st January, 1949, a new heading has been raised for "Hearing aids and parts thereof," the value of the exports in the first quarter of 1949 being £67,000. Corresponding quantity figures are not recorded.

War Damage (Business Claims)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now arrange for business claims under Part 2 of the War Damage Act, 1943, to be paid, since the delay in payment is causing hardship to many people whose capital was invested in their business and who now need it to live on.

The position is not yet in my opinion such as to make the general payment of business scheme claims desirable. Advance payments are, however, being freely made under the Act where the applicants satisfy the Board of Trade that the replacement or repair of the goods is expedient in the public interest, or that the payment is required to avoid undue hardship, and £38 million have already been paid out on these grounds. I am prepared to consider sympathetically any cases which can be advanced with good reasons on the grounds stated.

National Service (Demobilisation)

asked the Minister of Labour how many men and women of the three Services, respectively, have been demobilised since the cessation of hostilities.

Following is the number of men and women released or discharged from the Forces between 18th June, 1945, when demobilisation began, and 31st March, 1949:

Royal Navy784,89081,510866,400
Royal Air Force1,073,400167,2001,240,600

Civil Service (Executive Posts)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware that only a small number of executive grade posts have been offered at present to temporary executive officers; and what steps he proposes to take regarding the establishment of temporary executive officers to the established grade of executive officer.

Between 1945 and 1948, 1,450 temporary executive posts in the Civil Service have been established and the opportunities of securing establishment afforded to temporary executive staff in this period have been approximately the same in proportion to the numbers eligible as those afforded to clerks. The possibility of establishing more temporary executive posts is already being examined.

Rheumatism (Treatment)

asked the Minister of Health which regional hospital boards have schemes for the treatment of rheumatism similar to the Harrogate scheme which the Leeds regional board are sponsoring.

So far similar arrangements have been made in the Manchester and South Western regional hospital areas. It is intended to develop them elsewhere as medical and other resources allow.

asked the Minister of Health if provisions are made in the Harrogate and other regional board rheumatic schemes for the treatment by radiotherapy of the form of rheumatism which is so crippling to young and active members of the community and which is known as spondylitis.

It is the responsibility of regional hospital boards to provide for an accepted form of treatment such as this, though the necessary radiotherapy facilities may not be available everywhere yet.

Greece (British Missions)

asked the Minister of Defence what has been the cost of maintaining British troops and missions in Greece since 1944.

The cost to British public funds of maintaining the Military Mission in Greece, including the Naval and Air Force elements from 1944 up to the end of March, 1949, was about £3,160,000. For the same period the Police Mission cost about £283,000. It would be contrary to public policy to disclose similar information regarding British troops.