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Written Answers

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 26 May 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 26th May, 1949

Police (Oaksey Committee)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many visits were paid by the members of the Oaksey Committee to the finger print bureau and the criminal record office at Scotland Yard.

I am informed that the Committee did not visit either of these establishments.

Gerhardt Eisler (Arrest)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he was consulted by the American Embassy concerning the extradition of Mr. Gerhardt Eisler; and what advice he gave as between Section 7 and Section 8 of the relevant Act under which proceedings should be taken.

There has been no such consultation, and the second part of the Question accordingly does not arise.

Housing

Furnished Houses (Rent Control)

15.

asked the Minister of of Health how many cases of contracts for furnished lettings have been reported to each of the tribunals under the provisions of the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946; in what number of these cases at each tribunal has the rent payable by the tenants been reduced; and by what approximate percentages.

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of a statement showing the position on 30th April, 1949.

Steel Supply

21.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the anticipated surplus of steel available for use in Britain in the coming year, he will make more available for housing and step up the housing programme.

Steel is one and one only of the factors which limit the housing programme.

Service Personnel Rest Centres (Charges)

26.

asked the Minister of Health how many local authorities in the allocation of new houses waive residence qualification in the case of application from men about to leave one of the Services; and whether he will draw the attention of all local authorities to the need for special consideration towards serving personnel of the Armed Forces who by reason of their service cannot obtain a residence qualification.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available. As to the second part, advice is included in Circular 109/45, and in a recent Report by my Central Housing Advisory Committee which I have sent to all housing authorities. I am sending copies to the hon. Member.

30.

asked the Minister of Health what rent is chargeable in a rest centre for a family of four living in one room; and what proportion of this rent is allocated to food and lodging respectively.

The weekly charge for a man and wife and two children over 12 months old is £3 8s. 3d.; the charge is an inclusive one and is not allocated as between food and lodging.

Waiting Lists

65.

asked the Minister of Health if he is now in a position to make public the revised local authority housing lists; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard) on 5th May of which I am sending him a copy.

Small Dwellings (Acquisition)

66.

asked the Minister of Health in view of the fact that the majority of local authorities do not operate the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts and that a large section of the population are unaware of their provisions, if he will circularise all local authorities drawing their attention to the need for making such provisions more widely known.

Aged Persons' Homes (Inspection)

22.

asked the Minister of Health if in view of recent cases of neglect, he will now announce the date giving powers of inspection, under Sections 37 to 40 and Section 68 of the National Assistance Act, 1948, of homes for the aged and infirm run for private profit.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on Tuesday last to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson).

National Health Service

Dental Estimates Board

36.

asked the Minister of Health what duties are expected to be carried out by the dental members of the Dental Estimates Board; and what is the average number of dental estimates received by that Board daily for examination and approval.

The Dental Estimates Board is responsible for the approval of estimates of dental treatment and appliances prescribed in the General Dental Services Regulations and the dental members are concerned with such of those duties as call for technical qualifications. The average number of dental estimates received daily during the past four weeks was about 28,000 of which about 11,000 related to treatment requiring the prior approval of the Board and 17,000 to payment for treatment which did not require prior approval.

37.

asked the Minister of Health what is the establishment of profesional dental staff of the Dental Estimates Board; and how many dentists are actually on the staff.

Twelve. The present staff is seven and will be increased to eight by the end of the month.

Hospitals Board, Oxford (Expenditure)

39.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is yet able to state the position as between his Department and the Oxford Regional Hospitals Board regarding his proposed reductions in annual expenditure on current and capital account.

No, but I understand that the board will be considering the position in the near future.

Spectacles Supply

42.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that many people in Birmingham and district have been waiting six months or more for new spectacles; whether he will now consider introducing a priority scheme for elderly people and others; and when he expects the delivery position to improve.

I am aware of these delays which are general in all areas. Priority arrangements have been introduced for cases in which there would otherwise be serious deterioration of vision or total incapacity; they cannot be extended without further slowing down general deliveries. It is hoped that supply will begin to overtake demand by the end of the year.

Hospitals, Staffordshire

asked the Minister of Health how many female patients have been transferred from St. George's Hospital, Staffordshire, to other hospitals because they require insulin treatment, since 5th July, 1948.

Arrangements for the transfer of women patients from St. George's Hospital to other mental hospitals in the region were only recently made. One such patient will be removed shortly and others will be transferred as soon as vacancies are available.

asked the Minister of Health how many, and what proportion of, beds Coton Hill Hospital, Staffordshire, are reserved for fee-paying patients.

The proposals of the regional hospital board with a view to the use of beds at Coton Hill Hospital for fee-paying patients are at present the subject of discussion between my Department and the board, and I will write to the hon. Member when a decision has been reached.

National Finance

Local Authorities' Loans

59.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the total sum of the various departmental loans to local authorities now outstanding; and what is the equivalent equalisation sum due from the local authorities in respect of such loans.

I think that the hon. and gallant Member will find the information he requires in the Annual Report of the Public Works Loan Board for 1947–48, of which I am sending him a copy.

Contraband Goods (Impounded Taxicab)

61 and 62.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1) if his attention has been drawn to the case of William Dix, a taxicab proprietor of Bristol, whose cab was impounded because it was carrying from the dock area excisable goods which belonged to a passenger of which he had no knowledge; that the justices found no grounds for believing that he was guilty; that his cab by which he earns his living is still held by the Excise and Customs authority; and if he will take steps to release it forthwith;(2) to what extent his regulations render a taxicab driver liable when carrying pasengers' luggage from a dock area if the baggage contains, without the driver's knowledge, contraband goods; and what steps he proposes to take to protect drivers from having their cabs impounded and confiscated under such circumstances.

I am going into this case, and will communicate with my hon. Friend in due course.

Post-War Credits

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for how many years his Department issued statements to individuals of their post-war credits; if his Department allotted the same reference number to each taxpayer's statement each year; and if he intends to continue this system.

Certificates for post-war credits were issued for the five years 1941–42 to 1945–46 inclusive. Each certificate issued to a particular taxpayer bears a reference number allotted to him.

Civil Service

Equal Pay

63.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will give an estimate of the approximate cost of giving equal pay to women and men in the public services.

Clerks, Gibraltar And Malta

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware of the concern felt in Gibraltar and Malta at the long delay in settling schemes of establishment for Civil Service clerks employed by the Defence Departments in Gibraltar and Malta, some of whom have been classified under the title of war emergency clerks for upwards of 11 years; and when he will be able to make definite proposals in the matter.

The existing agreed scheme for the establishment of locally-recruited clerical staff at Malta and Gibraltar provides that graded clerks may be established after 10 years' service. Clerks who have been engaged since the outbreak of the war and who are properly termed war emergency clerks have less than 10 years' service and are therefore not yet eligible for establishment. The only clerks who have 11 or more years' service and remain unestablished are temporary clerks who have never become graded clerks because they failed to take the examination or for other reasons. Meanwhile the representatives of the staff concerned have asked for modifications of the scheme itself, and negotiations are proceeding.

Employment

Houseworkers (Training Centres)

67.

asked the Minister of Labour the location of the training centres of the National Institute of Houseworkers; the number of persons in training at each centre; the number of staff at each centre; the duration of the course; and the average cost of training each student.

The training centres of the National Institute of Houseworkers are located at Croydon, Newcastle, Birkenhead, Chilton Cantelo (Yeovil), Bridge of Allan (Stirling), Swansea, Keighley, Nottingham and Oxford. They vary in size and the numbers of persons at present in training are 37, 36, 34, 30, 26, 23, 20, 16 and 15 respectively. There is a principal, three teaching staff and a clerk at each centre, except at Nottingham and Oxford where there are only two teaching staff. The principals are responsible for recruitment and placing of students and for public relations work in their area in addition to supervision of instruction. The course lasts for six months; nine months for girls under 17 years of age. The average cost of training an older student is £27 per month; it is £23 per month for a younger girl. These figures include rental or equivalent capital charges, the cost of maintenance allowances, and in the great majority of cases board and lodging.

Disabled Trainees (Allowances)

68.

asked the Minister of Labour why there is a difference in rates and allowances between men and women trainees under the Disabled Persons Employment Act, 1944.

The maintenance allowances paid to trainees under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944, are broadly related to the general run of wages which they may expect to receive on taking up employment.

Technical And Scientific Register

asked the Minister of Labour how many appointments have been filled by the appointments department of his Department from persons on that department's technical and scientific register during the last 12 months.

The number of appointments filled through the technical and scientific register during the 12 months ended 9th May, 1949, was 2505.

Education

Swimming Instruction

70.

asked the Minister of Education what is the percentage of schools in which swimming is taught to children; and whether he proposes to arrange additional facilities for such tuition.

No statistics are available. I have given advice to local education authorities in Circular 84, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. and gallant Member.

Examination Fees

73.

asked the Minister of Education what fees are to be charged to entrants for the new General School Examination; and what fees are charged at present to entrants for the Higher Certificate and School Certificate examination respectively.

Information regarding examination fees is given in the Regulations of the approved examining bodies, but only three examining bodies have so far published their regulations for the General Certificate of Education examination. In view of the somewhat detailed reply which is necessary I am writing to the hon. Member to give him the information for which he asks.

Wolverhampton

74.

asked the Minister of Education what percentage of the school population of Wolverhampton have a grammar school education; what is the percentage for girls; and what is the average for the country.

Because of the large number of children on the registers of Wolverhampton secondary schools who live outside the county borough boundaries, no accurate estimate of the proportion of Wolverhampton children receiving grammar school education can be given. It is estimated, however, that about 15 per cent. of the boys and 16 per cent. of the girls previously educated in primary schools maintained by the Wolverhampton local education authority subsequently obtain a grammar school education. The comparable figures for England and Wales are 21 per cent. for boys and 22 per cent. for girls.

Physically Disabled Children

75.

asked the Minister of Education whether there is any comprehensive system of registration of cerebral palsy in this country; what is the number of children and adults, respectively, who suffer from this disease; how many each year have the opportunity of rehabilitation; and what prospect there is in the near future of an extension of accommodation for these persons.

There is no system of registration for sufferers from cerebral palsy as a separate class, but adults may be registered as disabled persons and local education authorities have a duty to ascertain all the physically disabled children in their areas. Fairly comprehensive surveys in certain areas suggest a possible incidence of about 2 per 1,000 children of school age or some 12,000 in England and Wales. A large number of these children are being successfully educated in ordinary schools or in special schools with other physically handicapped children, and there are now also two small special schools devoted entirely to them and further schools are proposed. There are, of course, many so severely affected that in the present state of knowledge little or nothing can be done for them.

School Dental Service

76.

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that the school dental service of the Borough of Hornsey will shortly have to close down because it is impossible to fill any one of the posts of the four dental surgeons authorised; and what assistance he can render in this matter.

The school dental service in Hornsey is equipped for only two dentists, not four, though expansion is proposed. One dentist is away ill and the other has recently resigned. The local education authority are arranging for a school dentist from Tottenham to deal with urgent cases at Hornsey. With regard to the salary difficulties which are holding up the recruitment of school dentists, I cannot add anything to the reply which my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Health gave to my hon. Friend, the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Baird) on 12th May.

82.

asked the Minister of Education how many full-time and part-time dental officers respectively, were employed in the school dental service in December, 1947, in January, 1948, and at the latest available date.

The number of school dentists in January, 1947, was 382 full-time and 614 part-time, the total staff being equivalent to 753 full-time officers. In January, 1948, the corresponding figures were 411 full-time and 652 part-time, the full-time equivalent being 921 Complete figures for a later date are not yet available but a special inquiry in January, 1949, showed that the total staff was then equivalent to about 866 full-time officers.

Flower Arrangement (Courses)

77 and 78.

asked the Minister of Education (1) for what purpose a course for teachers was held at the Midland Agricultural College, Loughborough, from 5th April to 12th April, 1949; and what was the cost to the taxpayer;(2) how many recent courses for teachers have been held confined to instruction in the designing and technique of flower arrangement in the home.

Two short courses in the design and technique of flower arrangement have been organised by my Department, one from 26th August to 1st September, 1948, and the other from 5th April to 12th April this year. Their object was to enable teachers of adult classes in art, crafts, domestic science and horticulture to undertake experimental work in this field. The cost of the first course was about £162 and that of the second about £104.

New Buildings, Wanstead Flats

79.

asked the Minister of Education if he has any further statement to make in connection with the erection of school buildings by the East Ham Borough Council, on Wanstead Flats, which is part of Epping Forest.

Yes. I understand that the East Ham local education authority are considering what steps to take with a view to acquiring a site of 18.9 acres forming part of Wanstead Flats. They have recently asked me to approve this site in principle as suitable for the educational purposes proposed, and I am considering this application along with various protests that have reached me.

School Meals

80.

asked the Minister of Education if he will give the number of school-children receiving free dinners, dinners on payment, and no dinners, respectively; and the number of schools providing dinners, at the latest convenient date.

In February, 1949, in round figures 308,000 children in grant-aided primary and secondary schools received free dinners, 2,316,000 received dinners on payment and 2,363,000 children were present but did not receive dinner at school. Dinners were being provided at nearly 27,000 schools or departments.

Independent Schools (Aid To Pupils)

81.

asked the Minister of Education when the Huntingdonshire County Education Committee may expect a reply to their letter dated 20th April, 1948, about aid to pupils at independent schools.

I regret the delay in dealing with this case. As the authority were informed in earlier semi-official correspondence, their letter raised an important point of principle which has been the subject of discussion with local education authority associations. A reply has now been sent.

Basutoland

Students (Official Posts)

83.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what percentage of scholars from Basutoland, who have taken advantage of a university course, take posts in Basutoland in the teaching profession and in any other official positions, respectively; and what pay do they command.

It is estimated that about a quarter of the Basutoland students who have taken a university teaching course, have subsequently taken posts in Government and mission schools in Basutoland. The normal salary scale is from £220 to £450, and in addition they receive free quarters. Only one medical student has passed a university course. He is now in private practice in Basutoland.

Local And Central Government

84.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what constitutional advance has taken place in Basutoland in recent years.

In reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on 4th March, I gave a short account of the important administrative and constitutional changes which have recently been made. I will send my hon. Friend a copy of my reply and copies of the Annual Reports for Basutoland for the years 1946 and 1947, which will provide him with fuller information. The Report for 1946 contains a summary of political progress made in the territory during the years of the war.

Disabled Ex-Service Men (Motor Cars)

85.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will give an estimate of the number of disabled British ex-Service men who would be entitled to a free motor car but for the fact that they were disabled while serving with the Indian Armed Forces.

According to the last available estimate there are about 55 British ex-Service men of the Indian Forces who might have a claim for a free motor car, by reason of the fact that they were disabled while serving with the Indian Armed Forces.

86.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he has yet received the decision of the Government of India as to the issue of free motor cars to disabled British ex-Service men whose disabilities are such as to qualify them for the supply of a free motor car under the scheme now in force; and what that decision is.

No, I have not yet received the decision of the Government of India.

Trade And Commerce

British Industries Fair

87.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the general result of the British Industries Fair from the standpoint of the expansion of export trade; the number of foreign buyers; and such estimate of the value of orders as can be ascertained by the officers of his Department.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 19th May to similar Questions on this subject.

Raw Cotton (Deferred Delivery Contracts)

88.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can now announce when the Raw Cotton Commission will introduce their new form of deferred delivery contract.

95.

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that the high prices of raw materials are a severe handicap to the export of British textiles, what steps are to be taken by his Department to ensure that the cotton industry will receive the maximum advantage from the lower prices which are being quoted for new crop cotton.

The Raw Cotton Commission, after negotiations with the spinning interests concerned, is planning to introduce a new form of cover scheme for spinners from the beginning of the new cotton year in August. This scheme will include full facilities for deferred deliveries, both at fixed prices and "on call." The Commission is also investigating the possibility of introducing almost immediately an interim arrangement to enable advantage to be taken of the current discount in new crop prices.

Football Pools (Paper)

89.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements he has made for the allocation of paper to those football pool organisations carrying on summer pools based upon Australian fixture lists.

The basis on which paper is allocated for summer pools takes no account of the nature of the pool: the average weekly allocation depends upon the estimated number of clients but is subject to an upper limit which is fixed in relation to the allocation made for the winter season. The same basis was adopted in 1948.

90.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it his intention to initiate a further prosecution for breach of the paper regulations against the football pool firm whose name has been supplied to him; and what actual reduction was made, and when, in the weekly paper allocation to such firm during the 1948–49 football season, upon the grounds that it had not been fulfilling its obligations to observe the appropriate regulations and agreements.

We have no evidence that any breach of the regulations is being committed. As regards the second part of the Question, no such reduction was made.

Spectacle Lenses (Export)

92.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantities of spectacle lenses have been exported since July, 1948; and to what countries.

The number of lenses for spectacles, goggles, eyeglasses or monocles exported between July, 1948, and April, 1949, was 767,000, of which 466,000 were exported to British countries and 89,000 to the United States. I will send my hon. Friend a statement of the quantities exported to the individual countries.

Export Promotion Committee

93.

asked the President of the Board of Trade when an announcement will be made regarding the setting up of the Export Promotion Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Graham Cunningham; and who will be the members of this Committee.

At the meeting in the Board of Trade on 26th April on the need for increased exports to North America, a Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Clive Baillieu and representative of industry and finance, was set up to settle the lines on which Sir Graham Cunningham's work could be most effectively carried out. The time and contents of any further announcement are matters for that Committee or for such other body as it may have decided to establish.

Machinery Exports, Eastern Europe

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the decline of machinery exports during April by 10 per cent., he will reconsider his policy of withholding the export of many types of such machinery to the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries.

Ministry Of Supply

Jet Engines

96.

asked the Minister of Supply why he has arranged a contract for the development of a petrol carburettor for jet engines.

No such contract has been placed. Jet engines have no carburettor.

Agricultural Equipment

97.

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the difficulty which merchants supplying farmers with agricultural equipment are still experiencing in obtaining supplies of barbed wire, manure forks, digging forks and similar tools; and whether he will take steps to improve the supply.

More wire rods are becoming available for the production of all kinds of wire, and supplies of barbed wire will, therefore, be increased. There has been a steady improvement in the supply of manure and digging forks, but if my hon. Friend has evidence of a shortage in a particular area and will let me have details, I will have the matter investigated.

Copper And Lead Prices

98.

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is satisfied that the recently announced reduction in the selling price of copper and lead will enable British manufacturers to compete on equal terms with the manufacturers in the United States of America.

It is impossible to isolate the relative prices of copper and lead from the other elements affecting competition between American and British manufacturers, such as, for example, dollar shortage in many overseas markets. I am, however, broadly satisfied, after considering the views of the exporting industries mainly affected, that a temporary disparity in prices in these metals need not have any significant effect on the export of those products which it is desirable to encourage.

Berlin (Railwaymen's Strike)

100.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement about the recent shooting of German railway workers within the British sector of Berlin by Soviet-controlled police.

The railwaymen in the Western sectors of Berlin came out on strike on 20th May in response to an appeal from the Western sector trade union organisation. The strike was organised primarily as a result of the refusal of the Soviet-controlled railway administration to pay in Westmarks the wages of the railwaymen who live and work in the Western sectors thereby causing serious hardship to the workers concerned. The Soviet-controlled railway administration refused to negotiate direct with the trade union representing these workers and prolonged negotiations with the legal Magistrat proved abortive.The railways throughout Berlin have, as a matter of geographical and administrative convenience, been operated since the beginning of the occupation as an integral part of the railway system of the Soviet zone. Responsibility for the protection of technical railway installations in the Western sectors as well as rolling stock and goods in transit has similarly been recognised from the beginning of the occupation to be primarily with the Soviet-controlled railway police.When the strike broke out the Soviet-controlled railway administration attempted to man key stations and installations in the Western sectors with railway workers from the Soviet zone. Armed Soviet-controlled railway police reinforcements were also sent to the Western sector stations. This Soviet-supported strike-breaking action has been keenly resented by the railwaymen and their sympathisers who have given vent to their feelings by demonstrating against the strike breakers and in particular against the armed railway police. In certain instances these demonstrations have drawn the indiscriminate fire of the railway police. Up to date there are reported to have been one fatal and fourteen non-fatal casualties.The Allied authorities who are responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the Western sectors, could not allow such a situation to continue and therefore, on 24th May, instructed the Western sector police to resume full responsibility for maintaining law and order at all stations. At the same time the railway administration were requested to withdraw their armed railway police from all stations in the Western sectors, leaving only sufficient personnel to carry out their limited functions. The railway administration have complied with this demand and the situation is now under proper control.That is the present position. His Majesty's Government consider that this strike, which was organised by a democratic trade union, was perfectly legitimate and should be settled by the normal methods of industrial negotiation. The action of Soviet-controlled railway police in firing at unarmed workers who are striking on a perfectly legitimate issue is a timely commentary on Communist methods of upholding the rights of the workers. It is our hope that as a result of the arrangements made by the Allied authorities in the Western sectors there will be no recurrence of the unfortunate incidents of the past few days and that the railway administration will be moved to enter upon negotiations for the settlement of the dispute upon an equitable basis.

Royal Air Force

Newspaper Article

101.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been drawn to an article in the "Sunday Times" of 22nd May by the Commandant of the Imperial Defence College; and whether the views expressed in that article represent the policy of His Majesty's Government.

Yes. My attention has been drawn to this article. As regards the second part of the Question statements of Government policy in these matters are the responsibility of His Majesty's Ministers.

Books

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many book distribution centres are operated by his Department; what is the approximate number of unused books now in store and the current rate of issue and intake; and what action he proposes taking to ensure that the public may obtain books not required by his Department.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that 500,000 new books are stored at Innsworth Royal Air Force station and are not being used that most of these books are in demand at public libraries; and if he will take action to have them released to libraries and schools forthwith.

There is one depot for storing and distributing books for the R.A.F., at Innsworth. The number of new hooks there at present is about 150,000. The intake of books has almost stopped: the rate of issue of new and used books is about 1,000 a week. The work of sorting out books needed for the Royal Air Force is proceeding. Surplus books are sent to His Majesty's Stationery Office for disposal. About 250,000 have been sent to them already.

Disablement Pensions

asked the Minister of Pensions what was the average weekly payment to 100 per cent. disabled pensioners, private or equivalent, for the years ending 31st March, 1945, and 31st March, 1946.

Bahamas

Food Situation

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if there has been any improvement in the food situation in Long Cay, Crooked Island and Aclin Island of the Bahamas group; and whether steps are being taken by the authorities to prevent a recurrence of the near-famine conditions which existed among the native population during the drought of last Summer.

The food situation in the islands is reported to be quite satisfactory at present. Recent rains have made the crop prospects good. A programme of works is being carried out, which will alleviate conditions should any unexpected crop failure occur.

Guided Missiles Range

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the proposal to permit an Anglo-American rocket range over the Bahama Islands.

Negotiations have been in progress since the Spring of 1948 between His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, the Government of the United States, and the Government of the Bahamas, for the establishment of a range for testing guided missiles in the neighbourhood of the Bahamas. These negotiations are not yet completed.

Caribbean Colonies (Shipping)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give the number of passengers sailing between the United Kingdom and British West Indies in British ships and in foreign ships, outward bound and homeward bound, during 1948, showing how many of such passengers were officially of committee of inquiry, deputations, Government Departments and Government-sponsored organisations.

The numbers of passengers carried in British ships sailing between the United Kingdom and the British Caribbean Colonies during 1948 were: Outward bound—4,285; Homeward bound—3,985. Of the outward bound passengers 1,975 travelled at the expense of His Majesty's Government or of the Colonial Governments concerned. I regret that I have no information regarding the numbers of passengers who travelled on foreign ships, or regarding the total number of homeward bound passengers on British ships whose passages were paid for by Government.

North Borneo (Governor)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the concern felt in British North Borneo at the transfer to Tanganyika of the Governor, after less than two years' service in Borneo; and if he will give an assurance that his successor will remain in the colony for a longer period.

The urgent needs of the Service made this move necessary. I much regret the loss to North Borneo and while I could not make any definite promise about the future, I attach the greatest value to continuity in administration.

St Kitts Sugar Industry

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the proposal for the Government to take over St. Kitts sugar factory.

The future of the St. Kitts sugar factory was one of the questions considered by the recent Commission of Inquiry into the St. Kitts sugar industry. The Commissioner has now reported to the Governor. The report is about to be printed and published. Meantime it will receive the consideration of the Governor of the Leeward Islands and myself.

Iron Ore Workings, Kettering

asked the Minister of Agriculture how much more land in the Kettering Rural District has been made unfit for agricultural use by iron ore workings since 21st February, 1949.

A precise figure cannot be given without a detailed survey on the ground, but it is estimated that since 21st February, 1949, about 35 to 40 acres of land in the Kettering Rural District have been made unfit for agricultural use by iron ore workings.

Post Office (Advertising Circulars)

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that certain firms are taking advantage of the announcements of births in the columns of the Press to obtain addresses to which they send unsolicited and fully illustrated circulars advertising commercial methods of birth control, which cause distress and indignation to parents; and whether, in view of the fact that qualified medical advice on this subject is freely available, he will see that His Majesty's mails are not used for this purpose.

I am aware that circulars relating to these matters are sent through the post and that complaints occasionally arise. The transmission by post of packets which are indecent or obscene is already prohibited. If the hon. and gallant Member considers that the circulars he has in mind fall within this category, I shall be pleased to look into the matter if he will let me have details.

Food Supplies

Stored Barley

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that there are large quantities of barley in a semi-rotting condition in Gloucestershire and East Anglia; and what steps he intends to take to remove these stocks from open sheds to more appropriate storage.

I know no such case, but if the hon. Member will let me have particulars I will gladly investigate.

Russian Salmon

asked the Minister of Food whether Russian salmon imported several months ago has now been distributed for retail sale; to which towns has it been sent; and at what price and pointage is it being sold.

None of the Russian salmon imported this year has yet been distributed.