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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Monday 23 May 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 23rd May, 1949

Food Supplies

Meat (Cutting And Weighing)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that many butchers in the towns are losing money and may be forced to close down owing to the difficulty of weighing exactly the weekly meat ration for households of one or two persons; that since no customer will accept meat under weight, it is normal for most customers to get about one ounce over weight every week; and whether he will instruct his officials to issue extra meat to cover this inevitable loss.

The butcher's permit includes a factor to provide for losses in cutting, weighing, etc., as well as an allowance for manufacture. I am quite satisfied that butchers are provided with sufficient meat to fulfil their obligations under the rationing scheme.


asked the Minister of Food if he is satisfied with the quality of potatoes being supplied for human consumption; if he is aware that large quantities of superior quality are being sold for cattle food; and if he will take steps to have them properly graded.

At this time of year the quality of potatoes is bound to be less good than at the beginning of the season. The best, and there is an adequate supply, are being kept for human consumption. Those sold for cattle food are usually poorer quality or deteriorating stocks. If my hon. Friend knows of any instance of potatoes which do not comply with the ware standard being sold to the public I will gladly look into it.

French Pork


asked the Minister of Food what quantities of pork have been imported from France as a result of the recent negotiations; and what distribution has been made.

First small sample shipments totalling 20 tons of French pork has arrived and been distributed in this country. We have, however, arranged to purchase from the French Government about 2,500 tons, which are already available and detailed arrangements for shipping are now being made. We hope also to complete arrangements soon for the purchase of further supplies which are expected to be available in the autumn.

Refined Sugar (Allocations)

asked the Minister of Food if he will publish an analysis of the allocations of refined sugar for manufacturing purposes according to end-product in the years 1947, 1948 and 1949, respectively.

I am afraid I can only give figures for the first two years. We shall not know what total allocations are in 1949 until the year is over.

Sugar as RefinedThousand tons
For production of19471948
Chocolate and sugar confectionery182·0170·0
Biscuits, cakes and flour confectionery.153·1143·5
Syrup and treacle80·386·0
Soft drinks27·232·3
Condensed milk15·917·7
Medical preparations11·78·7
Table jellies12·210·2
Ice cream12·210·0
Bakers' prepared materials13·412·5
Coffee essence5·95·7
Candied peel3·93·7
Breakfast cereals1·33·2
Pickles and sauces3·53·0
British wines3·43·5
Cake and flour mixtures2·62·6
Export and manufactured goods10·027·9

Poultry And Rabbits, Plymouth


asked the Minister of Food what will be the amount of imported poultry and rabbits available for the Plymouth district, including the Torbay area, in the next allocation; and when that allocation will be made.

The next allocation of imported rabbits to Plymouth will be about 1,150 cases, and will begin this week. I am afraid I could only find out the amount of poultry by asking each wholesaler separately.

Burma Rice


asked the Minister of Food how many tons of rice has he acquired so far this year from Burma.

The Ministry of Food are the agents for the Government of Burma for all rice exported from Burma. Exports from 1st January to 30th April amounted to 543,228 metric tons, which were shipped in accordance with allocations recommended by the I.E.F.C.


Rail Accident, Stockport (Report)


asked the Minister of Transport if the inquiry being held into the Stockport rail accident on 30th November last has been completed; and when the findings will be published.

The Report on this accident was published on 20th May, and I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Railway Engines (Fuel)

asked the Minister of Transport how many railway engines were converted from coal to oil; how many have been reconverted; how much is being spent annually on storage depots; and what is the loss to date to the taxpayer.

Ninety-three engines were coverted from coal to oil, and all have been, or are in process of being, reconverted. The estimated annual cost of maintaining the storage depôts is £10,000, but disposal of the plant, equipment and structures has commenced. Until the proceeds of disposal are known, it will not be possible to state the amount of loss.

Ministry Of Works

Factory, Feltham


asked the Minister of Works what is the intention of his Department regarding the future of the factory premises of Blackburn Aircraft, formerly General Aircraft Limited, Feltham.

I have nothing to add at present to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) on 2nd May. Inter-departmental consultations are still continuing.

Building Industry (Report)


asked the Minister of Works when he expects to receive the report of the Working Party on the Building Industry which was appointed in July, 1948.

When I appointed the Working Party, I indicated to them that I hoped to have their report by the end of 1949.

Backward Territories (Consultations)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what consultations have taken place with the United States Government as a result of President Truman's proposal for granting aid to under-developed or backward territories; and what assistance will Great Britain render towards this object.

There have been informal exchanges of views. The question has already been raised at the United Nations and a report is being prepared by the Secretary General for the next session of the Economic and Social Council which begins in July. His Majesty's Government will co-operate to the full, bearing in mind our special responsibilities towards the Colonies.

Passports (Application Forms)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by what authority the Passport Office in London insists on handwritten rather than typewritten application forms for a passport for a child; and why instructions to that effect are not given on the application form.

It is generally desirable, for the purpose of establishing the identity of the applicant and of discouraging attempts at impersonation, that passport application forms of all kinds should, if possible, be completed by the applicants in their own handwriting. This is the normal requirement for all forms of application for passport facilities, and is included as a direction at the top of the ordinary application form "A" which has recently been revised. My right hon. Friend has now given instructions for a similar direction to be included in other passport application forms, including the form "B" for children under 16 years of age. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing my attention to this point.

Skyways Limited (Workers' Representations)

asked the Prime Minister if he is prepared to receive representations from workpeople affected by Ministerial decisions, employed by Messrs. Skyways Limited, at Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey who have been refused any chance of putting their point of view against a Government decision that they should be moved from Dunsfold Aerodrome; and can he now extend to these workpeople through their duly recognised negotiating machinery the same facilities for consultation as are normally extended to workpeople organised by unions affiliated to the Trades Union Congress.

No. For the reasons given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Town and Country Planning, for not receiving a deputation I could not undertake to receive representations in this matter. With regard to the second part of the Question, the work-people employed by Skyways Limited, whether members of trade unions affiliated or not affiliated to the Trades Union Congress, have the same facilities for consultation on matters affecting their interests through the duly recognised negotiating machinery between the employer and the trade unions concerned.

Lancashire Coal Strike (Lost Production)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many tons of coal production has been lost in the recent Lancashire coal strike.

It is estimated that approximately 350,000 tons of coal have been lost as the result of the recent dispute in Lancashire.


Rationed Feedingstuffs

asked the Minister of Agriculture the total quantities in tons of rationed feedingstuffs allocated for poultry feeding in the calendar years 1946, 1947, and 1948, respectively, and the estimated amount for 1949.

The table below shows the total rations issued specifically for poultry and the total basic rations issued for pigs and poultry in Great Britain during the years referred to. Occupiers of holdings registered for basic rations for both pigs and poultry may draw their basic rations provided sufficient of either class of stock is kept and it is accordingly not practicable to distinguish the rations issued for poultry from the total basic rations. The theoretical ration requirements for the numbers of pigs and poultry kept in September, 1947, on holdings registered for combined basic rations were in the ratio of about 3.7.

Calendar YearRations specifically for Poultry '000 tonsBasic rations for pigs and poultry '000
1949 (estimate)555927*
* Exclusive of the increase in respect of pigs announced on 19th May and operating from 1st September, 1949.

Magazine "Ploughshare"

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the purpose of the magazine "Ploughshare" which his Department issues to men from the Forces; why he considers that the several weekly farm papers do not meet their needs; and what is the annual cost of this publication.

This monthly magazine, or not more than eight pages and simply produced, caters for the special needs of ex-Service agricultural trainees by giving them a basic understanding of farming processes and techniques and of country ways and rural problems, with the object of helping them to fit themselves into the agricultural community. This little magazine has served these purposes well and has usefully supplemented for these trainees the weekly farm papers which are primarily produced for those already engaged in farming. The cost of publication in 1948–49 was about £500.

Horse Carcases (Export)

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many horse carcases were exported from this country to France, Belgium and Holland during the years 1937 to 1939 and 1945 to 1948.

The numbers of horse carcases exported to Belgium and Holland in the years 1937 to 1939 were as follow:

Number of horse carcases exported from Great Britain to193719381939
Figures of exports to France during these years are not available. Under the export licensing system, the export of horse carcases has not been permitted since the war.

Town And Country Planning

Six Marshes Area, Lindsey


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what are his intentions in regard to the area known as Six Marshes, Chapel St. Leonards, Lincolnshire.

The question of development in the area known as Six Marshes is a matter for the local planning authority, Lincolnshire (Lindsey) County Council. I am satisfied that the County Council are fully aware of the damage to property caused by recent flooding and that they will take this factor into account when preparing their Development Plan and when considering any applications which may, in the meanwhile, be made to them for further building.

Survey, North Staffordshire (Report)

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning when the survey of North Staffordshire will be available and published.

I have not yet received this report from the Consultants but I hope that it will be in my hands shortly.

Factory, Gomersal (Use)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what use is now being made of the 40,000 square feet factory, formerly occupied by Messrs. Greenwood and Batley, at Gomersal, near Leeds; and whether any change of use is contemplated.

This factory was allocated in November, 1948, to the Coal Tar Research Association and is at present being converted for use as a research station.

Ministry Of Supply

Military Equipment (Trials)

asked the Minister of Supply to what extent it is the practice of Government scientists and other technicians engaged on the design and development of military equipment to spend part of their time in the field observing the use of this equipment under working conditions.

Scientists and other technicians engaged on the design and development of military equipment observe the performance of the equipment under working conditions particularly at prototype trials conducted by the Services. They also frequently visit units and formations using the equipment after it has been put into Service use.

Surplus Machine Tools (Disposal)

asked the Minister of Supply what receipts have been obtained from the sale of surplus machine tools: what is the approximate value of the stocks still held and the current rate of disposal; how many centres are still in use for distribution and storage, respectively; and what reductions are now proposed.

Cash receipts from the disposal of machine tools up to the end of April, 1949, were about £45,000,000. About 2,000 machines of an estimated disposal value of £400,000 await disposal. Since January the rate of clearance has averaged 1,100 a month. Two remaining sale centres will be closed at the end of June and we expect to clear the present stock, which is distributed among seven depots, by auction within about two months. Limited space may be required for the receipt and sale of further surpluses.

Ordnance Factory, Maltby

asked the Minister of Supply if he will set up a commission of inquiry under an independent chairman of high legal standing at which evidence can be taken on oath to inquire into all the circumstances of alleged vistimisation and waste of public money at the Royal

GradeSalaryForeign Service, etc., AllowancesTotal
Senior Principal Scientific Officer1,37000500001,87000
Principal Scientific Officer98000500001,48000
Senior Scientific Officer70000350001,05000
Experimental Officer525002000072500
Experimental Officer580003500093000
Experimental Officer630003500098000
Assistant Experimental Officer422002000062200
Assistant Experimental Officer400802000060080
Assistant Experimental Officer315002000051500
Assistant Scientific Officer340002000054000
Senior Executive Officer87500350001,22500
Higher Clerical Officer602002000080200
Higher Clerical Officer582003500093200
Clerical Officer467003500081700
Clerical Officer270002000047000
Clerical Officer42310020000623100
Clerical Officer402002000060200
Clerical Officer436003500078600
Assistant Foreman442003500079200
Assistant Foreman400003500075000

Festival Of Britain

asked the Lord President of the Council whether building by-laws are to be applied to buildings in connection with the Festival of Britain 1951.

The London County Council by-laws under the London Building Act are not binding on Government Departments, but the Festival of Britain

Ordnance factory at Maltby, particulars of which have been sent to him.

Family Settlement, Dominions

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations the number of men, women and children, respectively, who have sailed for settlement in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa under the various schemes for family settlement organised by these Dominions during the last two years; and whether he has any indication of the number of those who have been accepted but for whom no transport can be found for each of these Dominions.

There are no organised schemes for family settlement as such, and separate figures for family

(Note: Residence for a year or more is regarded as permanent residence for this classification)
DestinationMenWomenChildren (under 12)TotalRemarks
Canada (i)21,01426,00211,48958,505Note (i): Includes figures for Newfoundland for last three quarters of 1947 and first quarter of 1949.
Australia20,69523,42810,72154,844 (iii)Note (iii): Includes following totals of Free and Assisted Passage Migrants:— F.P.: 15,793 A.P. 14,491 TOTAL 30,284
New Zealand5,1066,3201,75713,183
South Africa (ii)21,22022,51010,63454,364Note (ii): Includes figures for Southern Rhodesia for last three quarters of 1947.

Steel Allocation

asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the increased production and stocks of steel, he is now in a position to permit a relaxation of the present system of steel allocation.

There has been a considerable relaxation of the system of steel allocation during 1948 and 1949, as a result of periodic reviews of the scheme, which will continue. Products in easier supply have been removed from allocation, and since January, 1949, consumers of not more than 100 tons of steel per annum have been covered by a special scheme whereby licences to acquire steel are issued directly by regional controllers independently of the main scheme. Despite increased production and stocks, there is, however, still a shortage of certain categories of steel and as long as serious shortages exist, the need for

units have not been recorded. The numbers of British men, women and children who sailed, whether under organised schemes or otherwise, for settlement in the four Commonwealth countries named, during the period from 1st April, 1947–31st March, 1949, are given in the table below. There are no separate statistics of the numbers of aliens who have migrated to these several destinations before January, 1949. I am endeavouring to collect the information sought in the last part of the Question and will write to the hon. Member.

allocation remains. We are also still importing steel from hard currency countries.

Water Supply, Suffolk Villages

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the fact that many parts of Suffolk are now seriously short of drinking water, and what extraordinary measures he intends to adopt to deal with this problem of drought which is causing hardship and anxiety in villages in the Hartismere and Deben rural districts.

The local authorities concerned are responsible for the measures for dealing with shortages, but I am ready to consider any proposals they have for providing temporary relief and to give them such assistance as may be possible in carrying out any measures that are approved.