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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 24th May, 1949

Scotland

Housing (Crofting Areas)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when it is intended to make operative the provisions in the Agriculture (Scotland) Act, 1948, for financial assistance for persons in the crofting areas wanting to build their own houses.

Regulations for this purpose were laid before Parliament on the 18th May.

Bridge, Bernera (Plans)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will give an assurance that the promise of grant from the Scottish Department of Agriculture for the proposed bridge at Bernera, Isle of Lewis, is still effective; and what prospect there is that work will be begun on this scheme at an early date.

Yes. Plans for the bridge have reached an advanced state but I cannot say when the work will commence.

Scalpay Island (Conditions)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the plight of the people of Scalpay Island in the Outer Hebrides, where, owing to the lack of any road, all goods have to be carried on their backs and children have to travel to and from schools over dangerous rocks and bog; and what action he proposes to take to improve their conditions.

My right hon. Friend is prepared to consider any proposals which the county council may put forward.

North Uist, Grimsay And Benbecula

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what decision has been arrived at regarding the proposed causeway to link North Uist, Grimsay and Benbecula islands; and what financial aid is to be made available from Scottish Department funds.

A survey of this project has been undertaken meantime, wholly at Government expense, and the position will be further considered when the final report of the engineers is available.

Electoral Registers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the unsatisfactory state of the voters lists in Scotland as at present compiled; and what early measures are to be taken to ensure complete and accurate lists.

Under the Representation of the People Act, 1948, the Autumn, 1949, and subsequent registers will be prepared on the basis of a house-to-house or other sufficient inquiry conducted by electoral registration officers. This should secure the greatest possible accuracy.

Health Service (Outer Hebrides)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what provision is being made under the National Health Service for regular visits by opticians and ophthalmic specialists to the various islands of the Outer Hebrides, in view of the time wasted and the expenses incurred by people, requiring sight testing or simple treatment, who have to go to neighbouring islands or mainland centres.

The Regional Hospital Board is establishing a monthly eye clinic at Stornoway and is arranging quarterly or, if necessary, more frequent visits of opthalmic specialists to North and South Uist, Benbecula and Barra, who will give eye treatment and eye-tests. In addition, there are two resident opticians in Stornoway, a third who visits Stornoway from Invergordon monthly, and a fourth, a Glasgow optician, who periodically visits the islands of Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay, with centres at Lochboisdale, Daliburgh, Eochar and Treogarry.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is now the position in regard to the public demand in the Barras-Ness areas of the Isle of Lewis for separate medical practices.

Since I replied to the hon. Member on 24th February last, there has been a public inquiry in Stornoway in connection with the appeal to which I then referred. I hope to issue my decision in a few days.

Pier, Isle Of Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when the work of constructing Portnaguran pier, Isle of Lewis, is to begin.

A scheme for a pier and boatslip at Portnaguran in place of the harbour previously proposed was submitted by the County Council in April; and is now under consideration.

Teachers (Honours Degrees)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what were the numbers of teachers with first or second-class honours degrees employed in secondary schools at 31st July, 1939, and at 31st July, 1948, respectively.

precise information about the number of teachers with first or second-class honours degrees is not available for all secondary schools. The number of teachers holding the teacher's special certificate, which implies the possession of a first or second-class honours degree or academic qualification of equivalent standard, employed in schools conducted by education authorities at 31st March, 1939, and at 1st October, 1948, was, respectively, 4,132 and 3,542.

Cows And Heifers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what increase in the number of cows and heifers of beef type has taken place in Scotland since 1943.

The number of cows and heifers in Scotland of beef type increased from 98,916 at 4th June, 1943, to 131,775 at 4th June, 1948. These figures are for cows and heifers in milk or in calf. The numbers of other female cattle, one year old and over, of beef type returned at these dates were 111,679 and 127,505 respectively. June figures for 1949, will not be available for some considerable time but the provisional figure for March, 1949, is 135,000 compared with 96,096 at 4th March, 1943.

British Army

Troops, Malaya (Training)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the minimum period of training at home, excluding training on board ship, and in jungle conditions, before men are considered adequately trained to be sent into action in Malaya; and whether he has allowed a reduction in these minimum periods in any cases since British troops were involved in the fighting in Malaya.

All troops going to Malaya must have first completed at least 16 weeks' training and a total of 18 weeks' service. In the past some soldiers have been sent after shorter periods of training, which varied according to their arm of the service and the nature of their employment in it; it has been the rule that in every case they must have completed their basic training. The training required after disembarkation depends upon the employment and arm of the service, but soldiers are not employed in operations in the Far East without first receiving suitable training in local conditions.

Advertisement

24.

asked the Secretary of State for War if in view of the annoyance and irritation caused by the publication of the recruiting advertisement, "Blind Alley to Let," issued to the Press, he will withdraw this advertisement; and was it published with his knowledge and consent.

My attention had not been previously called to this advertisement which was one of a series issued by the Central Office of Information in consultation with and on behalf of my Department. No complaint concerning it has been received.

Barbed Wire, Kent

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will take steps to remove the large quantities of barbed wire belonging to his Department which are scattered over and spoiling the countryside in Kent.

Physical restoration, including removal of barbed wire, is not in general carried out by my Department, though the Army removes mines and unexploded missiles and in the course of doing so occasionally removes barbed wire. Where restoration is in the public interest, it is effected under arrangements made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works. Otherwise compensation is paid by my Department.

Captured German Rifles

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make captured German rifles, appropriately altered for small-bore shooting, available for purchase by rifle clubs.

The whole of our stock of serviceable captured German 22 rifles was sold to the National Small Bore Rifle Association some time ago. All captured German full-bore rifles have been disposed of, but in any case it is considered that it would be uneconomical to adapt such rifles for small-bore shooting.

Territorial Army

Annual Camps (Leave And Pay)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will publish a list in the OFFICIAL REPORT showing the leave and pay arrangements made by the State in its capacity as employer, and by the British Electricity Authority and the Gas Council, for employees who attend Territorial Army camps; and whether he is satisfied that suitable arrangements have been made in all cases.

I give below the information asked for. On the whole I regard as satisfactory the arrangements so far made as set out in the list.

Civil Service

Special paid leave for attendance at Territorial Army camps is allowed as follows:

  • (a) to those with an annual leave allowance of 18 days or less: the whole of the period during which they attend camp for specified training, subject to a limit of 12 working days;
  • (b) to those with an annual leave allowance of more than 18 and less than 24 days: three-quarters of the training period subject to a limit of nine working days;
  • (c) to those with an annual leave allowance of 24 days or over: half the training period subject to a limit of six working days;
  • (d) for staff working a five-day week the maximum amounts of special paid leave allowed are reduced in each case by one-sixth.
  • British Electricity Authority and Area Electricity Boards

    Additional leave is allowed as follows:

  • (a) to those with two weeks or less annual holiday: one week on full pay, and a further week unpaid;
  • (b) to those with over two weeks' annual holiday: one week on full pay and further unpaid leave if necessary to bring the total of ordinary annual holiday and additional leave up to four weeks.
  • Gas Council

    The general policy to be followed has not yet been settled. In the meantime the matter has been left to the discretion of local offices, which are understood to be adopting a practice similar to that of the British Electricity Authority.

    Efficiency Decoration

    14.

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the increasing disappointment of Territorial Army officers at the continuing delay in the announcement of the conditions governing the award of the efficiency decoration and medal; why it has not been possible to make an announcement on this matter as promised on 22nd March; and when the announcement will be made.

    The new conditions amending the Royal Warrant for the award of the Territorial efficiency decoration were published in Army Order 48 of 19th April, 1949. The necessary amendments to Territorial Army Regulations regarding the decoration and the medal are in hand and will be published shortly.

    Town And Country Planning

    Wales (Outline Plan)

    31.

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning when the Outline Plan for Wales will be published.

    The Plan will, I hope, be published by His Majesty's Stationery Office on 1st June and I propose to publish on the same date an explanatory memorandum setting out my views on the principal proposals contained in it.

    Development Land (Applications)

    34.

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether priority of consideration is given, or is proposed to be given, to applications made under Section 80 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, by persons with an effective by-law permission and building licence in respect of the land which is the subject of the application.

    Yes. Priority is given to all cases on which it is known that the applicant needs an urgent decision for any reason. A building licence already granted is accepted as making a decision urgent.

    Development Corporations

    39.

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what salaries and allowances are paid to the members and to the chief officers of the new town corporations of Harlow and Stevenage, respectively.

    The salaries of chairmen of Development Corporations are £1,500; vice-chairmen receive £1,000, and other members £400 per annum. Travelling and subsistence allowances are payable on the scale of temporary Government Commissions. The general managers of both Corporations are on a salary range of £2,500-£3,000, and other chief officers from £1,350 to £2,000. These officers are eligible for subsistence allowances when travelling on duty up to a maximum of 33s. 6d. when away for 24 hours.

    40.

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how many motorcars have been purchased by the Corporations of Harlow and Stevenage for their own use.

    I would refer my right hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 21st November last, when I explained that I regarded the matter in question as one relating to the day-to-day administration of the respective Corporations.

    National Finance

    Special Contribution

    50.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the clerk to the Special Commissioners, Ditton, Surrey, has not replied to letters sent to him on 29th March, 14th April and 5th May, 1949, requesting refund of £145 10s. which, it was agreed, had been paid in excess of what was due under the Special Contribution levied by the Finance Act, 1948, from a taxpayer of whose name he has been informed; and will he arrange for the money to be repaid forthwith and instruct the clerk to the Special Commissioners to treat his correspondents with greater courtesy.

    I am writing to the hon. Member concerning this case. I very much regret that there was failure on the part of the Special Commissioners' office to reply to the taxpayer's letter. I understand that the repayment due to him has now been made.

    Savings Certificates

    53.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was invested in National Savings certificates and the number of investors in July, 1945; and what are the figures at the present time to the nearest convenient date.

    At 31st July, 1945, £1,816 million, including £272 million estimated interest, and at 31st March, 1949, £2,133 million, including £399 million estimated interest. The best available estimates of the number of live holdings of National Savings Certificates are 17½ million in 1945 and 17 million today.

    Pound (Value)

    55.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the approximate value of the pound today as compared with July, 1945.

    Betting Duty (Football Pools)

    63.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is the practice of Inland Revenue officers to check the taxation returns of football pool firms with the figures claimed to have been paid out by such firms in Press advertisements and circulars issued by them.

    Football pool betting duty is charged on the total amount staked with the promoters: and there is no occasion to check the receipts with the amounts claimed to have been paid out as winnings.

    64.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total number of football pool firms making weekly returns of revenue to his Department in the last week of the football pool season; the total amount received from such firms in taxation; and the number of firms whose weekly taxation obligation was less than £20, £50, £100, £200, £500 and £1,000, respectively.

    The latest available figures are for the month of April. Returns were received from some 120 firms and pool betting duty amounting to £1,474,375 was collected. The answer to the last part of the Question is 61, 74, 89, 96, 102 and 106 respectively.

    Art Collection (Reproduction)

    65.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the value of prints and other reproductions from the National Art Collection exported to dollar markets in 1948.

    Precise figures are not available. But the amount of such sales is at most £1,000 or £2,000 in a year.

    Budget (Pamphlet)

    68.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what was the total cost of producing the pamphlet, "The Budget and your Pocket"; how many were printed; and how has distribution been arranged.

    £1,915; 250,000 copies; distribution is by sale to the public through His Majesty's Stationery Office and normal trade channels.

    Feedingstuffs (Government Purchases)

    69.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will now make use of Marshall Aid for the purchase of feedingstuffs.

    There is no immediate need to use E.C.A. funds for the purchase of feedingstuffs. It will be possible for the present to maintain distribution, including the increased rations for pigs announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture on 19th May, from stocks and other non-dollar supplies. As to the future expenditure of E.C.A. funds for this purpose, I would refer the hon. Member to the relevant part of the reply which my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary gave to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) on 31st March.

    Customs And Excise (Delay)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that it took 29 days to obtain information from the Customs and Excise Department as to the taking of jewellery and furs abroad on an official visit and that similar information requested at the same time from the Canadian authorities arrived in three days; and if he will take steps to improve the situation and reduce unnecessary delay.

    Yes. This delay was regrettable but there were extenuating circumstances about which I am writing to the hon. and gallant Member.

    Electricity Stock

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the aggregate amount of local authority stock taken over in exchange for British Electricity Stock; and what the annual aggregate interest was on the local authority stock in question.

    Under the Electricity Act, 1947, compensation for local authority electricity undertakings vested in the British Electricity Authority did not take the form of exchanging British Electricity Stock for local authority stock. Local authorities are compensated by being relieved of the liabilities attached to their electricity undertakings and by the payment of a lump sum for severance.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what the total amount of British Electricity Stock issued was; and what the annual interest due upon it will be.

    The nominal value was £445,123,861. The annual interest will be £13,364,172.

    Anglo-South African Gold Agreement

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what amount of sterling has been made avilable to the South African Government in lieu of repayment of gold under the Anglo-South African Gold Agreement.

    Sterling Balances

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total in each year from 1945, and in 1949 to the latest convenient date, of sums withdrawn from sterling balances by other countries in agreement with His Majesty's Government.

    , pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th May, Vol. 465, c. 257] supplied the following information:The following releases have been made in accordance with formal agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Ceylon, Egypt, India, Iraq, Pakistan and Uruguay. No formal agreements for restricting sterling balances came into force until 1946.

    Sterling Releases from restricted to curreut Accounts
    £m.
    19465
    1947156½
    1948267 (a)
    1949 (1st quarter)50
    (

    a) These figures take no account of the payments by India and Pakistan for the purchase of annuities from His Majesty's Government and for defence stores under the financial agreements of July, 1948 (Cmd. 7472 and

    7479), but include the sums paid in connection with the purchase of the British-owned railways in Argentina.

    Trade And Commerce

    Basic Commodities (Prices)

    71.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will indicate the relative import prices, on a comparable basis, of basic commodities paid by this country, such comparisons to include particularly those commodities that are purchased by this country through the medium of bulk buying and centralised buying.

    It is difficult, owing to differing conditions of sale and delivery, to afford any ready comparison between the prices paid for basic commodities by the United Kingdom and by European countries, to which I understand my hon. Friend is referring. There is, however, no reason to suppose that, in general, we are paying more than other countries. In some cases, as the largest purchasers, we are probably paying less than other buyers.

    Metal Furniture (Export)

    72.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what efforts have recently been made by his Department to market metal furniture in the United States of America; at what cost; and with what results.

    As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) on 20th January. The cost incurred in connection with the exhibition of prototypes in the United States was £5,331. The reports of the exhibition—which was purely exploratory—suggested that there were good grounds for hoping that a market could be built up in the United States and Canada for this type of furniture. It would, however, come in a high price range and success would depend on maintaining the highest standards of design and craftsmanship. The Board of Trade invited furniture manufacturers and others to consider the opportunities presented of developing and exploiting these export possibilities. Certain proposals have been made, which are now being considered.

    Ladies' Beachwear (Imports)

    73.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade why ladies' beachwear is being imported from the United States of America; and whether these articles cannot be made in the United Kingdom, thus saving dollars.

    These imports take place under the token import scheme, which permits manufacturers in the United States and certain other overseas countries to send to the United Kingdom 20 per cent. by value of their pre-war trade in certain goods, including women's dresses.

    Utility Products

    76.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give figures to show to what extent, over a representative range of commodities, he has been successful in increasing actual and relative supplies of utility articles, as compared with non-utility.

    I give below the information requested regarding certain clothing and household textiles. As regards utility furniture, very detailed figures of actual supplies are published in the

    Total Supplies for home consumption (a)Percentage of these supplies in Utility scheme
    (1)(2)
    million
    Woven cloth for clothing:—sq. yds.
    Cotton and LinenJanuary-February, 194956·0369
    January-February, 194864·7276
    Rayon and NylonJanuary-February, 194936·3870
    January-February, 194837·3771
    WoolJanuary-March, 194962·2673
    January-March, 194855·8073
    Household textiles:—Thousands
    TowelsJanuary-February, 19494,14481
    January-February, 19484,42083
    SheetsJanuary-February, 19491,24087
    January-February, 19481,55191
    Cotton blanketsJanuary-February, 19491,29790
    January-February, 19481,11884
    Wool blanketsJanuary-March, 19491,28397
    January-March, 19481,27095
    million pairs
    Footwear (other than rubber)January-March, 194934·093
    January-March, 194831·651
    £ million
    Hosiery (b)January-February, 194914?890
    January-February, 194811·788
    '000 articles
    Corsets and brassieres (c)October, 1948-January, 19498,97380
    October, 1947-January, 19489,55390
    MattressesDecember, 1948-February, 194966283
    December, 1947-February, 194871573
    (a) Including imports where these are significant.
    (b) Includes outerwear, underwear, socks and stockings, and garments made up from knitted fabric in the hosiery industry.
    (c) Surgical corsets, belts and brassieres have been omitted.

    Footwear (Profits)

    74.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the statement in the Auditor-General's report on the Government's Trading Accounts for the financial year 1947–48 that footwear manufacturers' profits were more than double those which controlled prices were anticipated to produce; that this came

    Monthly Digest of Statistics. No figures are available showing the relative position as between Utility and non-utility furniture, because the term non-utility covers a wide range of non-domestic articles. If like is compared with like, and non-utility furniture defined as domestic types only, then the proportion of utility output is estimated to be certainly not less than 90 per cent., and there has been no great change in this figure for some time.

    Following is the information:

    about partly by the manner in which the leather subsidy was allocated; what steps he proposes to take in order to bring down the prices of footwear; and whether he will make a statement as to the cost to the public of the arrangements condemned by the Auditor-General.

    The maximum margins for footwear manufacturers were reduced in November last, largely as a result of the investigation of 1947 trading results mentioned in the Comptroller and Auditor-General's recent report. If, in 1946, we had known accurately what the turnover in the various qualities and types of footwear would be in 1947, the margins then introduced would have been narrower, and 1947 prices might have been lower by amounts ranging from 4d. to 1s. in the £. It is too early to assess the general level of profits which manufacturers are making under the reduced maximum margins which were prescribed last November. The situation will, however, be kept under review and further action taken as and when necessary.

    Factories, Scotland

    75.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade how many new factories, opened by branches of English firms in Scotland, have been closed in 1948.

    No new factories opened by branches of English firms in Scotland were closed in 1948, but five English firms who had taken over factories built in Scotland before or during the war ceased activities there early in 1949.

    78.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what area of Government-financed factory space in Scotland is at present unallocated.

    Approximately 300,000 square feet of factory space which is substantially complete, and a further 800,000 square feet still in various stages of construction are at present unallocated although firm application or inquiries are under consideration in respect of about 500,000 square feet.

    Kitchen Utensils

    77.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there is a considerable shortage in Leicester of essential kitchen utensils, such as pie funnels; and what efforts he is making to ensure that sufficient numbers will speedily be made available.

    I have not received any complaints recently about the shortage of essential kitchen utensils in Leicester or elsewhere. Supplies of these articles have much improved and are on the whole good. Pie funnels are not, I am advised, essential, and their manufacture for the home market was prohibited during the war. This restriction has now been removed and licences have been, and will be, issued freely to any manufacturers who wish to make them, but I do not think it necessary to take any special steps to stimulate their production.

    Anglo-Czechoslovak Agreement

    80.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the amount of sterling paid to Czechoslovakia under Article 5 (a) of the Anglo-Czechoslovakian Agreement dated 1st November, 1945, Command Paper No. 6695; how much has been received from Czechoslovakia and in what currencies under Article 5 (b) of the same agreement.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is approximately £9,200,000. As regards the second part of the Question, Article 5 (b) of the Anglo-Czechoslovak Money and Property Agreement of 1st November, 1945, does not provide for the payment of pre-war debts from Czechoslovakia to the United Kingdom creditors through inter-governmental channels, and I am unable to state the amounts which have been paid or the currencies in which they have been paid.

    New Industries, Sunderland

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the number of new industries established since 1945 in Sunderland, and the numbers of male and female personnel, respectively, employed; what further development is anticipated in the near future; and what regard will be paid to the provision of industry which will employ male labour, especially in the skilled grades.

    Ten new industries have been established in Sunderland since 1945 and are employing about 950 men and 3,200 women. In addition, many existing firms in Sunderland have built extensions to their factories and are providing employment for about 700 men and a small number of women. When all the new industries and the extensions to existing concerns in the area are in full production, it is hoped that employment will be provided for a further 1,700 men and about 1,800 women. But I am fully aware that these developments will not wholly meet the need for additional employment for men in Sunderland. The Board of Trade are, therefore, continuing to make every effort to attract suitable industries to Sunderland and in doing so will continue to pay particular regard to the skill of the men seeking employment.

    War Damage (Business Claims)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade when he proposes to make payment of claims under the business scheme of Part II of the War Damage Act, 1943.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Palmer) on 4th May on this subject.

    Overseas Goods (Bulk Purchasing)

    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.

    pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th May, 1949; Vol. 465, c. 8] supplied the following statement:

    RAW MATERIALS PURCHASED FROM OVERSEAS BY THE BOARD OF TRADE DURING 1948
    Quantity purchasedValue (f.o.b.)
    Tons£
    Timber4,884,12072,918,000
    Raw materials for textiles*372,17242,777,000
    Hides, skins and tanning materials193,44722,061,000
    Papermaking materials and board1,408,93340,879,000
    Materials for fertilisers and for the manufacture of sulphuric acid2,104,56011,328,000
    Chemicals602,1217,997,000
    Miscellaneous raw materials47,6352,057,000
    9,612,988200,017,000
    * Does not include raw cotton which is purchased by the Raw Cotton Commission.

    METALS PURCHASED FROM OVERSEAS BY THE MINISTRY OF SUPPLY DURING 1948
    MaterialQuantity purchasedValue (f.o.b.)
    Tons£
    Chrome Ore113,500528,000
    Copper (blister and electrolytic)312,500(a)37,278,000
    Lead170,00014,890,000
    Tin ore (tin content)9,464(b)4,789,000
    Virgin aluminium140,74010,229,600
    Zinc158,34210,466,000
    Pig Iron43,326576,048
    Steel374,63910,234,324
    (a) Excludes tonnages returned from toll refining overseas of Ministry copper and copper alloy scrap as refined copper.
    (b) Excludes tonnages of tin ore bought and imported on private account although the metal produced in the United Kingdom from such purchases is taken over by the Ministry. Excludes also purchases of this metal in Malaya by the Ministry and sold direct to overseas consumers.

    COMMODITIES PURCHASED FROM OVERSEAS BY THE MINISTRY OF FOOD DURING 1948
    CommodityPayments for purchases during the calendar year 1948
    QuantityValue (f.o.b.)
    Tons 000's£000's
    Fruits and vegetables (a)1,304·944,444
    Fish (b)62·77,135
    Meat and bacon (c) (d)1,105·0101,307
    Tea, coffee and cocoa352·779,132
    Cereals, pulses, starch and animal feeding stuffs (d)8,571·4193,099
    Sugar and glucose1,908·548,683
    Milk products, eggs and oils and fats (d)2,243·5222,638
    15,548·7696,438

    NOTES:

  • (a) Including canned fruit, dried fruit and edible nuts and fruit juices.
  • (b) Including canned fish.
  • (c) Including canned meat, poultry and rabbits.
  • (d) Includes £16·2 m. for purchases under Andes Agreement not received in the United Kingdom until 1949.
  • COMMODITIES PURCHASED FROM OVERSEAS BY THE MINISTRY OF WORKS AND DELIVERED DURING 1948
    CommodityQuantityValue
    Excavators225£2,807,669

    Hotel Equipment

    81.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being taken to provide increased supplies of equipment for Scottish hotels, in view of the need to increase our overseas tourist traffic.

    Very few articles of equipment required by hotels are now rationed, and every effort is made to see that any which are scarce are distributed fairly. Particular attention is paid to those hotels which are of importance in the overseas tourist traffic, and I fully realise that many Scottish hotels are of this kind. If my hon. Friend will let me have details of any specific instances of difficulty in getting equipment, I shall look into the matter.

    Employment

    Margate And Broadstairs

    44.

    asked the Minister of Labour what are the latest available unemployment figures for Margate and Broadstairs respectively.

    Seven hundred and forty-four at Margate on 9th May. There is no employment exchange at Broadstairs and unemployed persons in that area are included in the figures for Ramsgate, which on 9th May were 776.

    Building Labour, Scotland

    82.

    asked the Minister of Labour what inquiries into the question of building labour for housing have been conducted on his behalf in Scotland; and what further steps are to be taken.

    84.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he has any statement to make on the recent official discussions held in Scotland concerning the labour force engaged in house building.

    88.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he is satisfied with the present available labour position in the Scottish building industry; and if he will make a statement about plans to increase the labour supply.

    This matter has been carefully considered and I am satisfied that the present labour force engaged on house building in Scotland is adequate in size to meet the needs of this year's programme. There is a shortage of plasterers but the introduction of an incentive bonus scheme and new methods of production should help to ease the position. The adequacy of the labour force will be kept under constant review as the programme develops.

    Unemployment Statistics

    83.

    asked the Minister of Labour what were the number and percentage of registered unemployed in 1923–24, over four years after the end of the First World War, and in 1948–49, a little less than four years after the Second World War.

    In 1923 and 1924 the average numbers of insured persons unemployed in Great Britain were 1,300,000 and 1,160,000, respectively, or about 11½ per cent. and 10 per cent. of the insured population. In the period January, 1948, to April, 1949, the corresponding average was 315,000, representing rather less than 2 per cent. of the insured population.

    Training Centres, Scotland

    85.

    asked the Minister of Labour what is the number of places in Government training centres in Scotland; and the number of persons at present in training.

    Four hundred and sixteen places are available at the Scottish centres, and there are 315 men and women in training.

    Wells House Hotel, Ilkley

    86.

    asked the Minister of Labour when he expects the first foreign labour to arrive at Wells House Hotel, Ilkley, which has been vacant for over a year; whether he is able to fulfil the promise which his Department gave recently that Wells House Hotel would be given priority in the allocation of foreign workers; and whether he is aware that certain textile firms in the district are having to refuse foreign order owing to the shortage of women workers.

    It now appears that the recruitment of foreign workers under the arrangements referred to in the reply given on 22nd March by my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the hon. Member will not be sufficient to enable the hostel to be filled. It has, therefore, been decided that it will not be required for textile workers, and the premises will be disposed of by the Ministry of Works in accordance with the usual procedure.

    Wage Rates (Increase)

    87.

    asked the Minister of Labour by how much, on an annual basis, wages have increased since the Prime Minister made his appeal for restriction of increase in February, 1948.

    These figures are not compiled on an annual basis. The increase on a weekly basis as a result of the changes in rates of wages reported as taking effect between March, 1948, and April, 1949, is estimated to be £2,080,000 a week. This represents an average increase of about 3s. a week for all manual workers in the industries covered by the statistics.

    Coal Industry (Foreign Workers)

    89.

    asked the Minister of Labour whether, in order to increase the manpower in the mines, he will approach the Italian Government with a view to recruiting suitable workers from the unemployed in Italy.

    No. I understand from the National Coal Board that the coalmining industry could not at present readily assimilate any additional foreign workers.

    Small Estates (Succession)

    90.

    asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that the limit imposed by Section 46 of the Administration of Estates Act, 1925, which deals with succession to real and personal estates on intestacy, inflicts, in cases of small estates, hardship on the surviving spouse owing to the present increase in the value of property; and if he will take steps to diminish this hardship by increasing from £1,000 to £2,000 the capital sum to which the intestate's surviving spouse may become entitled under this Section.

    While there may well be hardship in certain of the cases referred to by my hon. and learned Friend, it is clear that any increase in the amount of property taken by a surviving spouse must adversely affect the interests of any children or other relatives entitled on intestacy. I regret that I am unable to hold out any prospect of legislation on this subject in the near future.

    Aged Persons' Homes (Inspection)

    91.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he is now able to name the date when his Department will commence to exercise their powers of inspection of homes for the aged and infirm which are run for private profit, under Sections 37 to 40 and Section 68 of the National Assistance Act, 1948.

    Ministry Of Supply

    Motorcars (Exports To Usa)

    93.

    asked the Minister of Supply if he can give the approximate number of British motorcars which have been shipped to the United States of America but not sold; and what is the amended target figure of motorcar exports to the United States of America for the current year.

    I regret that figures are not available. The motor industry has not been set a separate target for exports to the United States of America, but has undertaken to give first priority to the American and Canadian markets.

    Malaya (War Damage Compensation)

    95.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why he proposes to double the grant to Malaya from £10 million to £20 million for war damage; if this proposal will come before the House for approval before it is operated; and, in view of the substantial profits made by the tin and rubber companies, why he has imposed this burden on the taxpayer.

    The answer to the first two parts of the Question was given in my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Pontypool on 13th May. The third part of the Question is based on a misunderstanding of the War Damage Compensation Scheme which is now being considered in Malaya. The scheme is designed to assist in the rehabilitation of the Malayan economy as a whole, as can be seen from the correspondence with the Malayan Governments, copies of which are in the Library of the House.

    National Insurance (Contributions)

    asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is satisfied that all those people who come under the provisions of the National Insurance Acts are paying the necessary contributions to National Insurance.

    I am satisfied that only a very small proportion of the persons liable to pay contributions are not paying. All practicable steps are being taken to secure full compliance, including legal proceedings where appropriate.

    Food Supplies

    Broccoli Prices

    asked the Minister of Food what price Kentish farmers are now receiving for broccoli; and what price retailers are authorised to charge for it.

    Broccoli prices are not controlled. In the week ended 7th May, the price range for Kentish broccoli according to quality was from 10s. to 30s. per cwt., and in the following week 7s. 6d. to 24s. per cwt. In the same period the average retail price in the south-eastern division, which includes Kent and parts of Surrey and Sussex, was 6d. per lb., but this average, of course, conceals wide variations according to quality and, also, sources and volume of supply.

    Empire Sugar Production

    asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to encourage further production of sugar from Empire sources with special regard to the giving of dollars on imports from hard currency areas.

    A strong incentive to expand Empire sugar production has been provided by our undertaking to purchase the entire quantity of sugar which can be made available, for export from all sugar producing countries within the Commonwealth up to the end of 1952. Since the end of the war the recovery in Commonwealth production has made remarkable progress, and greatly reduced our dependence on purchases of dollar sugar required to meet United Kingdom consumption.

    Gift Parcels

    asked the Minister of Food if he can now make any concession on the proportions of rationed and unrationed foods that may be included in gift parcels sent out of this country.

    I have decided that these restrictions can now be modified. Accordingly from today unrationed food may be included in a gift food parcel sent abroad in equal proportion with the rationed food or rationed soap that it contains, instead of in the proportion of 4 lb. of rationed food or rationed soap to 2 lb. of unrationed food as at present. The total weight of the parcel must still not exceed 7 lb. nor must the weight of any one food included in it exceed 2 lb. I have also decided that from now on these parcels need not be franked at a food office before despatch but can be posted in the usual way at a post office.

    Education

    Maintenance Allowances

    asked the Minister of Education how many replies he has now received from local education authorities to Circular 189 on maintenance allowances; if he will give particulars of the various scales of assistance now being operated by authorities, including the highest and the lowest; and if he will now recommend a suitable scale for authorities to adopt.

    I have now received particulars from 112 local education authorities of their intended arrangements for the award of educational maintenance allowances. Authorities' arrangements differ so much in form that it would be impracticable to make a comparison in the form suggested by my hon. Friend. Taking, however, the annual amount payable for children of 16 and over in the case of a family with one child and a gross income of £4 10s. a week, in England the highest award proposed is £45, the lowest £10. In view of the differing local circumstances I have not thought fit to recommend any single scale for universal adoption but I am taking action where I consider that the arrangements proposed are unsatisfactory.

    Grammar School, Eye (Future)

    asked the Minister of Education if he is aware of the growing dissatisfaction among parents, scholars and residents over a large area at the suggested change in the status of Eye, Suffolk, Grammar School, to a bilateral school or merging with Diss in the County of Norfolk; and if he will suspend future plans until a full and comprehensive inquiry has been held into local requirements and the opinions of the many educational bodies and organisations affected ascertained.

    I am aware that there is opposition to the proposals which have been made as to the future of the Grammar School at Eye under the East Suffolk Development Plan. The matter is still under consideration and I shall have regard to all the circumstances before the plan is approved. The plan is, however, a long-term one, and public notice would have to be given in due course of any proposal to close the school or to amalgamate it with another school. Further opportunity would thus be given for any objections to be fully considered in the light of the circumstances then existing.

    Maesteg Valley

    asked the Minister of Education if he is aware of the concern felt in the Maesteg Valley at the lack of provision of facilities for secondary education in this area; has the Glamorgan County Education Authority yet submitted a scheme for the building of a new school at Caerau; and if he is prepared to give this project a high degree of priority.

    I am not aware that there is any serious shortage of provision for secondary education of a grammar school type in the Maesteg Valley district, but I understand that because of accommodation difficulties children below the age of 13+ cannot be transferred to the school which is now serving as a secondary modern school under a temporary reorganisation scheme. A proposal to erect a new secondary school at Caerau has been included by the local education authority in their suggested building programme for 1950, but I am not yet in a position to announce any definite decision on this.