Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 21st June, 1949

British Army

Trooping Of The Colour (Rehearsals)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether in view of the serious traffic congestion which occurred in central London during the morning rush hours on 1st June through the closing of certain roads for a military rehearsal, he will in future arrange for similar rehearsals to begin and end before 8 a.m. in summer and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in winter.

I cannot give any such undertaking, but every effort will be made to see that such rehearsals do not cause undue interference with traffic. The congestion on 1st June in connection with the rehearsal for the Trooping of the Colour was due to an unusual combination of circumstances and did not recur on 2nd and 3rd June when similar rehearsals were held.

Civilian Employees (Overtime)


asked the Secretary of State for War when the arrears of overtime rates made to industrial civilian employees in June, 1948, and back-dated to January, 1947, will be paid to the 647 Company, R.A.S.C. Fleet, Scottish Command, at Sandbank, Dunoon, Scotland.

It is expected that all accounts will have been completed and all individuals paid by August next. The delay in settling these arrears has been due to the work involved in scrutinising the overtime records of each member of the company going back over more than two years with the added complication of many changes of rank and postings.

Medals (Delayed Issue)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that Mr. L. L. Crisp, of 40, East Street, Braintree, Essex, who is entitled to a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, with gratuity, was advised on 27th August, 1948, that the medal would probably be issued to him in March or April, 1949, and that on 5th March, 1949, the regimental paymaster had been advised in respect of his gratuity, but he has so far received neither medal nor gratuity; why the delay in issuing them is longer than was foreseen; and if he will expedite their issue.

The delay in issuing the Long Service and Good Conduct medal is due to supply difficulties, but I am glad to say that medals are now being issued in a number of outstanding cases, including that of Mr. Crisp. According to my information Mr. Crisp was sent the gratuity in respect of the medal in October last.

Recruits (Physical Standard)

asked the Secretary of State for War the average weight and height of recruits for the Army in the years 1949 and 1948, together with any other available statistics relating to the physical standard of such recruits.

My hon. Friend will now have received a letter giving him the information asked for.

Town And Country Planning

Development Charge


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how much has been paid in Shropshire as development charges under the Town and Country Planning Act; and how much it is estimated will be paid by 31st December, 1950.

I regret I cannot give any figure for this, and the time and labour involved in computing it would not be justified.

Tree Felling, Hodders Combe

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware that widespread tree felling is taking place with devastating effect in Hodders Combe, a beautiful valley of the Quantock Hills on the Quantoxhead side; to what extent it is intended to continue this high-speed clear felling; with what trees it is intended to replace the natural beech and oak; whether consideration has been given to the fact that this is part of the proposed Exmoor National Park; and whether he gave approval to the felling before it was begun.

So far as I am aware the tree felling in the area referred to is not at present on an extensive scale and the area is not likely to be cleared of timber in the near future. The area licensed for felling is Lady's Edge, Black Ball Wood and part of Bircham Wood, and forms part of a much larger area over which the Forestry Commission are negotiating a lease. Under the lease the subsequent regeneration of the woods would be undertaken by the Forestry Commission who would have full regard to amenity and to the desirability of some hardwood planting. At this stage it is not possible to say the species of trees which would be planted in specific areas. Further felling of the timber can be prevented only if a Tree Preservation Order is in operation. The Somerset County Council have submitted a draft order which I am now considering.

National Insurance (Personal Case)


asked the Minister of National Insurance why Mr. Archibald Macdonald, a patient in the Town and County Hospital, Wick, who received 13s. per week from his approved society until 5th July, 1948, has since then only received 5s. per week, which is quite inadequate for his needs; and what steps will be taken to remedy this situation.

I have written to the hon. Member about this case. Mr. Macdonald is receiving the appropriate rate of benefit under existing regulations but as I explained in my letter these regulations are provisional and we are awaiting the advice of the National Insurance Advisory Committee on the permanent arrangements to be applied to persons in hospital.


Hill Cattle Subsidy


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether application forms for hill cattle subsidy are now ready for issue; and what is the closing date for receipt of applications.

Application forms were sent out on 18th May to those who submitted a valid application for subsidy in 1948. Notices calling attention to this fact were issued to the Press on the same date. Intending applicants who did not receive a form by 21st May were advised in the notices to write to the Department of Agriculture, 21, Semple Street, Edinburgh, and ask for a form without delay. I cannot stress too strongly that in terms of the scheme completed applications must reach the Department at that address not later than 30th June. 1949.

Salmon Poaching


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the large-scale salmon poaching now being carried on in certain rivers, estuaries and on the coast of Caithness and Sutherland which is beyond the capacity of the local police forces to deal with; and what steps he has taken or will take to bring this traffic to an end, in view of the threat which it offers to the salmon stock which is one of the counties' principal assets.

I have received complaints of large-scale salmon poaching in the waters referred to but inquiries I have made indicate that these are exaggerated. The suppression of poaching is primarily a matter for Salmon Fishery District Boards and for the proprietors of the fishing rights, but the police in Caithness and Sutherland give every assistance. Further inquiries are being made into the specific instances about which the hon. Member has written to me and the general question of protecting the salmon fisheries against large-scale destruction is at present being considered by a Committee which I set up last year.

National Finance

Income Tax (War Damage Claims)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will reconsider his official pronouncement on 27th January, 1948, and permit the interest on War Damage claims to be apportioned for Income Tax purposes over the years during which it was accrued, as hardship is still being caused by this ruling.

Exchange Control (Staff)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many persons are employed at the Treasury and the Bank of England on exchange control.

Football Pools (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Pool Promoters' Association regarding the proposed 50 per cent. increase in taxation; what reply he has given; and whether he is satisfied that pool promoters will be able to remain in business if taxed as proposed by him.

Representations have been made by the Pool Promoters' Association to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary against the increase from 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. in pool betting duty. After considering their arguments he replied on my behalf that I could not agree that the increase should be withdrawn, and subsequent developments have not affected my view. I do not anticipate any such consequence as is anticipated in the last part of the Question.

Services' Surplus Books

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many of the books received by His Majesty's Stationery Office from the Service Departments since V.E.-Day have been sold direct to public libraries; and what opportunities have been given to public librarians to acquire these books.

24,000. Lists of surplus books have been sent to 300 local authorities; in addition 135 of the more important libraries have been approached directly.

Civil Service (Ex-Service Candidates)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the provision under which the recruitment of assistant experimental officers through the 1949 Civil Service open competition is debarred to anyone born before August, 1923, reacts hardly on older ex-Service candidates; and whether he will take action to ensure that such persons, whose university course has been delayed by the duration of their service in the Forces, are not penalised.

I do not agree that the regulations for this competition cause any hardship to older ex-Service candidates. In the first place, a university degree is only one of several acceptable qualifications, and is not a necessary requirement. Many candidates who are recruited as Assistant Experimental Officers have only Higher School Certificate or an equivalent qualification which they have gained before their military service. Secondly, we have already taken action to ensure that older ex-Service graduates should not be penalised because in the reconstruction arrangements, which have only lately been discontinued, we gave the opportunity to anybody whose university course had been delayed by service in the Forces to put his name down as a prospective candidate. This allowed him time to take his degree before being interviewed for appointment by the Civil Service Commission.

Trade And Commerce

Reyrolls, Limited (Inquiry)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to make a statement upon the results of the inquiry instigated by his Department into share dealing by the former chairman of Reyrolls, Limited, in connection with transactions of that company.

The inspector's report has been received and copies have been sent to the court and to the companies and persons concerned. Certain representations have been received which are being considered. I am not yet in a position to make a further statement.

Whisky (Exports To Canada)


asked the President of the Board of Trade how much whisky was exported to Canada during 1948.

861,000 proof gallons of whisky, valued at £1,799,000, were exported to Canada during 1948.

Furs (Descriptions)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make an order to compel wholesalers and retailers of fur coats or other articles made from fur-bearing animals to state clearly the origin of the fur.

No. The trade descriptions of furs now in use are widely known and I should not feel justified in compelling traders to change their practice. A trader who applies a false description to furs or any other goods may be prosecuted under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, by any interested person.

Raw Materials Stocks


asked the President of the Board of Trade why a general physical stocktaking of the raw materials in the possession of his Department is impracticable.

A complete physical check on the volume of stocks is impracticable owing to shortage of technical staff. Limited physical tests are undertaken wherever possible.

New Factories, Development Areas


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applicants for new factories in the Development Areas have notified him that they no longer want them owing to changes in the trade position.

I am afraid that I cannot be more precise in answering the hon. Member's Question than to say that as far as can be judged from the information given to the Board of Trade by the firms concerned, 44 applicants for new Government financed factories in the Development Areas withdrew during the past 12 months, owing to changing economic circumstances of one kind or another. All but 10 of the factories, in respect of which applications were withdrawn, have been re-allocated or have firm applicants in view.

Anglo-Soviet Discussions


asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the present position regarding the discussions in connection with the extension of the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement of 1947.

Discussions are taking place in Moscow about grain, and the other aspects of a one-year agreement are being discussed in London. I am not able to give further details at this stage.

Newsreels (Cross-Over System)

68 and 69.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what amount of raw film stock was saved in 1948 by the cross-over system under which cinematograph exhibitors are prevented by the Cinematograph Film (Control) Order of 1943 from cancelling their subscription to newsreels;(2) what was the total sum compulsorily subscribed in 1948 by cinematograph exhibitors, other than the Gaumont, Odeon and A.B.C. circuit exhibitors, to newsreels.

The exhibitors affected by the cross-over system, which enables one copy of a newsreel to serve for two cinemas at once, could not have had separate copies for each of them without increasing the consumption of film stock in 1948 by about 20 million linear feet. No exhibitors are subscribing compulsorily to newsreels, except in the sense that one term of the contracts which all the subscribers accepted voluntarily in 1943, precludes them from cancelling their subscriptions during the continuance of the Cinematograph Film (Control) Order, 1943.

Films (Anglo-Soviet Exchange)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken to ensure an exchange of films between the Soviet Union and this country; if the Russians were prepared to conclude an arrangement; and what difficulties arose.

In 1948 the leader of the Soviet Trade Delegation in London suggested an exchange on a barter basis of selected Russian and British films. I welcomed the suggestion and agreed to explore the practical possibilities. Since then copies of 11 Russian and 11 British films have been exchanged for viewing. The Russians have not yet reported on the British films, but after viewing the Russian films, the British film companies concerned have now reported that the box office takings on these particular films would not in their opinion cover the distribution expenses including the cost of preparing English versions. The companies would, however, be very willing to discuss terms for any of the British films which the Russians may be interested to take on an ordinary commercial basis.

Coal Prices (Manufacturers' Complaints)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what is his present practice with regard to the complaints of manufacturers who find that recent increases in the price of coal make it difficult for them to continue on an economic basis or to maintain or develop their export trade; and to what extent in such matters it is his practice to communicate with the Minister of Fuel and Power, the National Coal Board or the Industrial Coal Consumers' Council.

In any case of complaint to my Department about the price of coal, it would be the practice to refer the manufacturer concerned both to the Ministry of Fuel and Power and the National Coal Board. Individual firms have of course the right to address complaints to the Industrial Coal Consumers' Council direct.

Lenses (Exports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much currency in dollars has been earned by the export of spectacle lenses from the United Kingdom since July, 1948.

The value of the United Kingdom exports of lenses for spectacles, goggles, eyeglasses or monocles to dollar countries between July, 1948, and May, 1949, was £20,000.

National Health Service

Mentally Defective Children (Accommodation)


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the serious shortage of accommodation for mentally defective children in the area served by the North East Metropolitan Hospital Board, he will authorise the board to proceed immediately with the erection of temporary accommodation.

I have received a preliminary inquiry on this subject from the Regional Hospital Board who have under consideration the provision of additional temporary accommodation at South Ockendon Colony; and I have asked them to prepare sketch plans so that the proposals may be considered in detail.

Mental Patients

asked the Minister of Health the total number of patients who were certified in England and Wales during the months of January, February and March, 1948 and 1949, respectively.

The figures are as follow:

PrivateHealth ServiceTotal

asked the Minister of Health the number of voluntary patients admitted to mental hospitals in England and Wales during the months of January, February and March, 1948 and 1949, respectively.

The figures are as follow:

PrivateHealth ServiceTotal

Rubery Hill Mental Hospital


asked the Minister of Health whether he has completed his inquiry into conditions at Rubery Hill Hospital; and what statement he has to make thereon.


Marshall Aid Goods (Shipment)


asked the Minister of Transport what fall in earnings by shipping lines it is estimated will result from the recent decision of the Marshall Plan authorities that 50 per cent. of all goods allocated under that scheme must in future be transported in United States ships.

The earnings of British shipping in world-wide trade depend on many different factors, and it is not possible to estimate the effect of the new shipping provisions of the United States Economic Co-operation Act. The Act will involve payment of dollar freights on American vessels which we would not otherwise need—though this may be offset by increased earnings of British shipping elsewhere.

Shipping (West Indies Route)


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the inconvenience and disappointment caused to the civilian population in the West Indies by the shortage of sea-borne passages owing to the large number which are reserved by the military authorities; and whether he proposes to send out a troopship this Autumn.

My right hon. Friend regrets that passenger accommodation on the West Indies route though increasing is not yet sufficient. The "Georgic" with capacity for all those awaiting passages has just called at Jamaica and Trinidad and he expects that a troopship will be available towards the end of the year.

Driving Tests

asked the Minister of Transport what percentage of driving test candidates failed to pass during 1948; and what was the percentage for the Yorkshire area.

In 1948 37 per cent. of driving test candidates failed. The percentage for the Yorkshire traffic area was 43.

Road And Rail (Comparison)

asked the Minister of Transport if he can estimate the percentage of difference in time and cost per ton mile between moving heavy freight by train as against moving it by road transport.

I am not aware of any sound basis on which such estimates could be framed.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give any figures or statistics he has as to the relative number of drivers and engineers required per ton mile for freight moved by train and freight moved by road transport.

Road Maintenance Grants

asked the Minister of Transport how grants made to highway authorities in aid of classified road expenditure for 1949–50 for maintenance purposes will compare with those made in 1947–48, including the cost of snow clearance.

The estimate of the Road Fund for 1949–50 provides for grants amounting to £13,500,000 to highway authorities for maintenance and minor improvement of classified roads. Grants issued for similar purposes in 1947–48 amounted to £14,544,000. These figures include provision for snow clearance, the cost of which was exceptionally heavy in 1947–48.

Leasehold Committee (Recommendations)


asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that there is a grave urgency to protect large numbers of tenants of business premises who are threatened with eviction on the termination of their tenancies; and if, in view of this and of the interim report of the Leasehold Committee, he will immediately introduce legislation for dealing with this position.

I am aware of the views of the Leasehold Committee on this question and anticipate that a statement of the Government's intentions regarding their recommendations will be made very shortly.

Ministry Of Pensions (Personal Case)

asked the Minister of Pensions why the payment of a pension to Mr. W. F. Jones, 38, Bollo Lane, Chiswick, W.4, pension book No. GN. 7544, was terminated on 4th May last; and whether he will arrange for the necessary forms to be sent forthwith to Mr. Jones to enable him to appeal against this decision.

At the last medical examination in April, 1948, the disablement was assessed at less than 20 per cent. Mr. Jones was awarded a final weekly allowance, plus a gratuity of £40, which was paid in April last. He was informed of his right of appeal. At no time has Mr. Jones indicated to my Department dissatisfaction with this award but I am arranging for him to be medically examined again.

Wounded Sailors, China (Arrangements)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he has now received reports from Hong Kong giving details of arrangements made to meet the wounded from His Majesty's ships "Amethyst," "London," "Consort" and "Black Swan" on their arrival in Hong Kong whether the British Red Cross and Young Men's Christian Association authorities were informed of the time of their arrival; and whether they or any other welfare organisations were present when the men were landed.

Arrangements for meeting and transporting the wounded, who reached Hong Kong in the United States Hospital Ship "Repose" on Sunday, 1st May, were made by the Royal Naval Hospital. A medical officer and two sick berth chief petty officers boarded the "Repose" before she docked to discuss the arrangements with the ship's medical officer. Six ambulances, including one lent by the Army, with three medical officers, nursing staff and equipment, and two buses for the less seriously wounded, were waiting on the dock side. As adequate facilities were available from Service sources, it was not necessary to ask for help from any of the Welfare Societies, and they were not therefore advised of the expected time of arrival of the wounded.

Royal Parks (Allotments)

asked the Minister of Works if he will consider extending the period of tenure of allotment holders in the Royal Parks after December, 1950, in view of the continued importance of home-produced food.

I am receiving a deputation from a number of allotment holders' organisations next week on this subject.


School Places, Hertfordshire And Essex

asked the Minister of Education how many school places, primary and secondary, have been provided in permanent buildings in the counties of Hertfordshire and Essex, respectively.

Three thousand and forty primary and 830 secondary school places have been provided since 1945 in permanent construction in Hertfordshire. The figures for the administrative county of Essex are 2,900 primary and 690 secondary school places.

Nursery Schools

asked the Minister of Education why more prefabricated huts are not provided as schools for children of the nursery school age, so as to reduce the existing large numbers in classes, as the Statistical Digest announced that more building trade operatives exist in this country than we have ever had before, and there is ample cement with which to construct these huts.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) on 17th March last. The use of pre-fabricated huts for nursery schools would make calls upon the resources of labour and materials at the disposal of my Department which could not be justified in view of the more urgent need for other educational provision.