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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Monday 16 May 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 16th May, 1949

Food Supplies

Argentine Meat (Import Regulations)

4.

asked the Minister of Food what regulations are laid down for the import of meat from the Argentine; and what inspections are made.

Meat imported from the Argentine is subject to the provisions of the Public Health (Imported Food) Regulations which require the meat to be accompanied by an official certificate certifying that it has been produced from healthy animals and under hygienic conditions. The regulations are enforced by port health authorities and certain other local authorities who make check inspections at the port of entry. In addition surveyors appointed by my Department ensure that the meat is satisfactory.

Apples (Control)

21.

asked the Minister of Food when he expects to arrive at a decision as to the maintenance or discontinuance this year of the control on apples.

Officers (Powers)

asked the Minister of Food how many officers of his Department have power to enter private houses; and how many times this power has been exercised in the last two years.

None. An officer of my Department, exactly like any other person, has power to enter a private house only if he is named in a search warrant granted to a constable and accompanies the constable in his search, as provided by Defence Regulation 88A. I could not say, without making inquiries of each officer concerned, how often this has been done in the last two years.

Medicinal Preparations (Sugar)

asked the Minister of Food on what basis sugar is allocated for the manufacture of medicinal preparations; what proportion this bears to the amount of sugar allocated for sugar confectionery; and whether he will arrange for an allocation of sugar to be made to manufacturers of medicines who have commenced business since 1939.

Sugar is allocated to manufacturers of medicinal preparations mainly as a percentage of usage during the year ended 30th June, 1939. Allocations fall into three groups:—

Per cent. of Datum
(a) Preparations made according to the British Pharmacopaeia or B.P. Codex135
(b) Non-B.P. preparations90
(c) Medicinal tablets and lozenges105
The total allocation of sugar amounts to 12,000 tons a year, which is about 6 per cent. of the allocation to the sugar confectionery industry. A quantity of sugar is available for allocation on the advice of the Ministry of Health to firms in the pharmaceutical trade who commenced business after 1939 or who desire to do so now.

Chocolate And Sweets

asked the Minister of Food if he will now grant licences to industrial canteens to purchase chocolate and sweets for resale to workers.

Only where no shops exist in the neighbourhood. Until we see how derationing settles down it would be unwise to allow many new selling points to build up stocks of sweets.

Transport

Road Repair, Kendal

26.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the hardship caused to hotel-keepers, garage proprietors and others dependent on the custom of long distance traffic by the closing of part of A.6 near Skew Bridge, South of Kendal, for repairs; and whether he will give an assurance that the road will be re-opened before Whitsun.

This work is being carried through as rapidly as possible and, unless there are unforeseen difficulties, the road will be re-opened for traffic in both directions before Whitsun.

Mechanically Propelled Road Vehicles

23.

asked the Minister of Transport how many mechanically propelled vehicles are at present on the roads in Great Britain, giving the number of each separate classification available; and how many he estimates there will be in 1955 and 1960.

The most recent figures available are those of mechanically propelled road vehicles for which licences were current on 28th February, 1949. These are approximately as follows:—

Cycles and pedestrian controlled vehicles447,000
Hackney Vehicles (including tramcars)129,000
Agricultural Tractors, etc.220,000
General Haulage Tractors4,000
Goods Vehicles of all kinds764,000
Cars1,868,000
Exempt Vehicles (Service vehicles, ambulances, etc.)73,000
3,505,000
I do not consider it practicable to form a reliable estimate of the corresponding numbers for 1955 and 1960.

Lea Valley Road (Definity)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the lack of definity in the lay out of the Lea Valley Road is seriously retarding food production; which of the county councils concerned have requested him to make an early decision in this matter; and whether he will now give instructions for the future line of this road to be placed forthwith on the respective town planning maps.

This road is not likely to be built for some years and I know of no reason why food production should be affected at present, nor have either of the county councils concerned asked for an early decision. The fixing of the line of the road, in relation to factors such as the new town at Harlow and the needs of agriculture, requires further investigation, which is proceeding. If the hon. Member will specify any cause for concern there may be, I shall be glad to look into it.

Undertakings, Glasgow

asked the Minister of Transport if he has any statement to make on the representations made to him by Glasgow Corporation to examine the transport undertakings serving Glasgow and adjacent areas with special reference to the possibility of the electrification of the railway system covering these areas.

Yes. After consultation with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Scotland, I have discussed this question with the British Transport Commission and they are proposing to set up a Committee to examine the problem and to act in close consultation with the Corporation of Glasgow.

Ministry Of Supply

Jet Engined Bombers (Prototypes)

30.

asked the Minister of Supply how many manufacturers are engaged in the construction of prototype jet engined bombers; and if he will give the names of the firms so engaged.

It would not be in the public interest to disclose this information.

Ordnance Factory, Maltby (Complaints)

asked the Minister of Supply if he has considered details which have been sent him concerning charges of victimisation and waste of public money at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Maltby, and elsewhere; and if he will make a statement.

I have considered the details to which the hon. Member refers, but I do not find that the charges of victimisation and waste of public money are substantiated.

Burning Oil (Quality)

37.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of representations made to his Department by the agricultural industry in connection with the poor quality of present-day supplies of paraffin, he intends to allow petroleum distributors to market burning oils of better quality.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) on 31st March, and add that I have now received proposals for marketing a better quality burning oil and am discussing them with the representatives of the petroleum industry.

Petrol Allowances (Lawn Mowing)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power upon what scale petrol allowances are allocated for lawn mowing; and for what reason his Regional Petroleum Office at Tunbridge Wells is informing the public that the scales are confidential.

The scales of supplementary allowances are included in confidential instructions issued to regional petroleum officers and it would not be in accordance with precedent for these instructions to be published. The allowances for lawn mowers vary between four gallons for areas up to 4,000 sq. yds, and a maximum of 16 gallons for the largest areas.

Electricity Supplies (Trading Results)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will now state which local authorities had been supplying electricity at a loss at the time of being taken over under the Act.

The returns from certain local authority electricity undertakings giving full trading results for the year 1947–48 are still outstanding and compilation cannot yet be completed. I am, therefore, not in a position to give the desired information.

Germany

Steel Trustee Association

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has about the German Steel Trustee Association, the form of management, the number of concerns in the association, the names of directors, the amount of steel that is to be manufactured and, in the whole of Germany, the use of the steel; and if the steel manufactured will be allowed to enter the world market.

The German Steel Trustee Association has not yet been set up. When formed it will not have the character, composition or functions which are implied in my hon. Friend's Question. It will be responsible primarily for holding in trust the assets of those concerns in the German iron and steel industry which are subject to decartelisation. It will, however, be required to submit plans for the reorganisation of the iron and steel industry. Therefore it will not be an association of steel concerns, nor will it have responsibility for management or for production, or use of steel in Germany or for the participation of Germany in the world steel market.The Association will consist of twelve German nationals appointed by or under the authority of Military Government. Nominations for these appointments have been made by the German iron and steel industry, the Federation of Trade Unions, the Institution of Public Accountants and the Association of Law Societies.With regard to the question of the amount of steel that is to be manufactured, the level of steel production to be permitted to Western Germany is 11.1 million tons per annum. It is calculated that this will be adequate for the requirements of Western Germany, including, of course, its requirements for the manufacture of goods for export. There is no prohibition on the export of either raw steel or finished steel, within this production level and no such prohibition is contemplated.

I G Farben (Plans)

40 and 41.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what is the management's policy in the concerns owned by I. G. Farben; to whom, for what period, and upon what basis have the plants been leased; who are the directors; and what concerns they were or are connected with;(2) what is His Majesty's Government's policy relative to the future of I. G. Farben; who are the controllers or representatives of the Government in the I. G. Farben; what firms are, or were, they connected with; and what part do the bizonal Government play in the management of the German chemical industry.

The management policy of concerns owned or formerly owned by I. G. Farben is a matter for the German management in control of the concern. However, two bodies, one British and American and the other German, have been set up to deal with the decartelisation of I. G. Farben in the bizone.The first is the Bipartite Farben Control Office with joint British and United States chairmen. The British chairman is Mr. E. L. D. Fowles, a chartered accountant, who is also Controller of I. G. Farben concerns in the British zone. This body is responsible for the financial control and the approval of plans for the reorganisation of the Farben complex.The German body, the I. G. Farben Dispersal Panel, has been instructed to draw up plans for the deconcentration of the Farben complex into independent units. Many of the Farben subsidiaries are already operating as independent units under the supervision of trustees appointed by Military Government. None of the I. G. Farben assets have been leased to new enterprises. Responsibility for production in the individual units has passed to German hands. As will be seen from the foregoing, Military Government policy as regards I. G. Farben is to break up the excessive concentration of economic power which the complex acquired under the Nazi régime.

Requisitioned Houses, Hamburg

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many houses in Hamburg are at present requisitioned by the Control Commission or Service authorities and unoccupied.

There are at present 73 unoccupied requisitioned houses in Hamburg. Three are about to be de-requisitioned. The others are being prepared for early re-occupation.

Newspaper Licence, Schleswig-Holstein

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that the Military Government in Schleswig-Holstein has withdrawn the licence for the publication of the newspaper of the Free Democratic Party; and if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which this was done and when the licence will be renewed.

It is not the case that the licence of a newspaper of the Free Democratic Party has been withdrawn. "Der Freie Demokrat," this Party's periodical, which in its normal form does not require a newspaper licence, began to appear in the format and with the contents of a newspaper in contravention of the rules applying to periodicals. When, despite warnings from Military Government, the publisher persisted in producing what was in fact a newspaper, he was ordered to stop publication.The newspaper of the Free Democratic Party which at present circulates in Schleswig-Holstein is the "Hamburger Freie Presse." The Party has recently applied for a licence for a separate newspaper in Schleswig-Holstein. The decision on whether or not to license the paper will rest with the German authorities subject only to formal confirmation by Military Government.

Overseas Goods (Bulk Purchasing)

54.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a comprehensive statement as to the quantity and value of goods bought in bulk from overseas by various Government Departments during 1948.

I am in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Ministers of Food, Supply and Works, and as soon as the required information regarding bulk purchasing has been collated, it will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Buenos Aires Transport Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the present position concerning the paying of compensation to British shareholders in the Buenos Aires Transport Corporation; what recent action has been taken by the British Ambassador; and how far the negotiations linked with the negotiations for a fresh trade agreement.

The present position is still that the Argentine Government have not replied to the frequent representations made to them by His Majesty's Ambassador on behalf of the British interests involved. During the past month Sir John Balfour has made both written and oral communications on the subject to the Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs. As regards the last part of the Question, I would draw the attention of the hon. Member to the answer which my hon. Friend gave him on 28th March. I would only add at this time that the way in which British financial interests in Argentina are treated, naturally has an influence on the possibilities of concluding a satisfactory trade and payments agreement.

National Finance

North Of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board

asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury whether he has any statement to make with regard to the capital requirements of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.

Yes. The Board have proposed a further issue of stock for the purpose of repaying temporary advances from the Scottish Banks, of defraying further expenditure on constructional schemes and for other authorised purposes. These proposals have been approved and accordingly the Board issued on Thursday, 12th May, to the National Debt Commissioners, under Treasury guarantee, £10 million of North of Scotland Electricity 3 per cent. Guaranteed Stock 1989–1992 at par. The effect of this issue is to increase the outstanding capital of the Board to £27 million.

Post-War Credits

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the sum which would be involved in the immediate payment of post-war credits of men and women who were killed in action or who died on war service.

Civil Aviation (Radar Staffs)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what is the position of the women working in the radar department at Nutt's Corner Aerodrome, Northern Ireland; and if he proposes that they shall become established civil servants entitled to a pension on retirement.

The application of radar to civil aviation is still in its development stages, and until further knowledge becomes available of the long term future of this device, it is not possible to regard the posts at present occupied by the staff at Nutt's Corner and at other aerodromes, as other than temporary. By virtue of their present grading, however, the clerks at present engaged on this work are within the scope of the agreement between the Official and Staff Sides of the National Whitley Council which provides for the establishment of 34,000 temporary clerks in the Treasury Clerical Officer grade (and analogous Departmental grades) to be filled by the nomination of temporary staffs.The 34,000 temporary posts represent only a proportion of such posts in the Civil Service and, as a consequence, a quota for establishment has been allocated to each Government Department where temporary clerks are employed. It follows, therefore, that not all the temporary clerks serving in the Radar Department at Nutt's Corner can hope to be successful in the competition for establishment.

National Health Service

Hearing Aids

asked the Minister of Health what reports he has received of the value of the Medresco Aid provided for deaf people under the National Health scheme.

Most reports are made to the hospitals concerned. I have, however, received a number from patients, some critical and for the most part appreciative. Patients who have had long experience of other aids testify to the superiority of the Medresco not only in ordinary conversation, but in business, traffic, meetings, theatres, etc.

Hospital Medical Staffs, Liverpool

asked the Minister of Health what are the criteria by which several young physicians in the Liverpool Hospital Region have been graded by staff assessments committees as being of senior hospital medical officer grade; and who considers any appeal made against such decision.

No general criteria have been laid down; the grading is done by regional hospital boards or boards of governors on the recommendation of a professional advisory committee. A dissatisfied practitioner can complain to the board giving any facts he thinks relevant, and the board will ask the professional reviewing committee to reconsider the case. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the memorandum issued to boards on this subject.

Post Office

Sub-Office, Kensington

asked the Postmaster-General if, in view of the inconvenience which will be caused to residents in the district, he will reconsider the proposal to close the sub-post office at 170, Old Brompton Road, S.W.5.

I am re-considering this matter and will write to the right hon. Member as soon as possible.

Parcels (Pilferage)

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that many residents in the United Kingdom complain of thieving from incoming food and other parcels; what records are available as to the number of such complaints; and what action does he propose to take to remedy this matter.

While I regret the occurrence of some cases of pilferage from incoming parcels, the bulk of such losses is attributable to damage in transit due to faulty packing. No comprehensive record of complaints is maintained centrally, but the hon. Member can be assured that the number of losses, from whatever cause, is very small in comparison with the volume of traffic concerned; and, in every case where there is evidence that theft has occurred, the matter is investigated by specially trained postal officers with a view to tracing and punishing the offenders and of preventing further losses.

State Schools (Avoidable Absenteeeism)

asked the Minister of Education what has been the percentage of avoidable absenteeism in the State schools during the past year or any convenient period.

The information asked for is not available, but I have no reason to think that absenteeism from avoidable causes is at all widespread.

Royal Air Force Bands (Earnings)

asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the percentage of their earnings from civilian engagements which Royal Air Force bands are required to hand over to the Air Ministry or the Treasury.

Royal Artillery (Bombardier Artificers)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the deadlock in promotion and prospects of bombardier artificers in the Royal Artillery; and if he will look into the matter to improve their position.

This matter was already under review. I am not yet in a position to make any statement about it.