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Written Answers

Volume 466: debated on Thursday 23 June 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 23rd June, 1949

Conscientious Objectors

1.

asked the Minister of Labour what was the average monthly number of persons registered as conscientious objectors during the war and since VJ-Day, respectively, showing men and women separately.

This information cannot be expressed in monthly averages and it can only be related to 30th June, 1945, which was six weeks before VJ-Day. Up to that date the number of men registered as conscientious objectors was 62,655 representing about.77 per cent. From that date to the end of 1948 the number was 1,809 representing about.18 per cent. The total number of women registered as conscientious objectors was 2,555 representing.27 per cent, all earlier than June, 1945.

Employment (Ex-Service Men)

3.

asked the Minister of Labour to what extent industry is employing ex-Service men over 40 years of age.

I regret that the information sought is not available and could not easily be obtained.

4.

asked the Minister of Labour to what extent his Appointments Board is finding employment for ex-officers of the services over 40 years of age.

Statistics by age groups are not available. From VE-Day to 11th April, 1949, 22,964 ex-officers of all ages, including 1,451 women, were placed in employment by the Appointments Service. Of these, 5,891, including 231 women, were placed in employment during the 12 months ended 11th April, 1949.

Education

Grammar School Places, Wolverhampton

7.

asked the Minister of Education in view of the lower percentage of children in Wolverhampton who obtain grammar school education, what steps he is taking to secure that these children should have the same average opportunities of education as the children in the rest of the country.

No increase in the number of grammar school places is proposed in the Wolverhampton development plan, but it is expected ultimately to reduce the number of pupils from outside the borough who attend grammar schools in Wolverhampton. The plan also provides for three new secondary technical schools in addition to the existing one. I am in general agreement with this part of the plan, which, when carried out, should give a satisfactorily balanced provision of secondary education.

Closed School, Alston Moor

8.

asked the Minister of Education if, in view of the remoteness and severe climate in winter, he will reconsider the decision to close Nenthead Church of England School, Alston Moor, Cumberland.

I presume the hon. Member has in mind Nenthall Church of England School. When I considered the authority's proposal to close this school, I took into account among other factors the situation of this village and weather conditions of the locality, but decided that the closure would be in the best interest of the children's education. I see no reason to alter that decision.

General Certificate

9.

asked the Minister of Education whether, in the general certificate of education which it is proposed to issue after 1951, he will include information to show whether the holder was educated at a grammar, technical or modern school.

I am not prescribing the inclusion of such information on the General Certificate of Education.

New School Places

asked the Minister of Education the number of new places provided, respectively, in nursery, primary and secondary schools during 1946, 1947 and 1948.

It is estimated that the following number of new school places were provided:

PrimarySecondary
194610,00010,000
194720,00060,000
194860,000120,000
The figures for primary schools includes 40 places in 1947 and 160 places in 1948 provided in nursery schools.

Carpenters' Pencils

23.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the shortage of carpenters' pencils; and what steps he is taking to ensure that manufacturers can obtain the necessary cedar wood and other materials.

Timber supplies are still barely sufficient to enable the manufacturers to meet the demand for ordinary pencils. Carpenters' pencils are relatively heavy users of timber. While I would be ready to license manufacturers to make them for the home market, I am not prepared to bring pressure on them to do so. Solid graphite sticks which have proved an excellent substitute are available and as a result of special measures taken to develop pencil cedar wood production in Kenya, deliveries from there are increasing and an improvement in supplies of pencils for special needs, such as carpenters' pencils, should be possible later in the year.

Agriculture

Wool Clip (Prices)

49.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the net profit of £640,699 resulting from the sale of the requisitioned clip of home-produced wool for the year ended 30th April, 1948, he will return this money to the farmers or alternatively use the profit for increasing current wool prices to producers.

No. The net profit of £640,699 resulted from the sale of wool requisitioned in 1947. The price paid to wool growers for the 1948 clip was increased over the 1947 level by 9d. a lb. for wool from hill sheep, and by 6d. a lb. for all other fleece wool. These increases represented an addition of about £1,400,000 to the sums paid to growers. There will be a further increase in the prices to be paid for the 1949 clip.

Ministry's Wool Section

50.

asked the Minister of Agriculture why it is necessary to continue the British wool section of his Department with offices at Charlbury, Oxfordshire; and when he expects to decontrol the marketing of wool.

The British wool section of my Department is being continued in order to collect and dispose of the 1949 home wool clip. I hope that a Marketing Scheme for wool under the Agricultural Marketing Acts which the Farmers' Unions of the United Kingdom are preparing, will come into operation in time to handle the 1950 clip.

Scotland (Brora Mine)

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what part Brora mine will take in his plans for the economic well-being of the Highlands.

I am aware of the importance of this mine and have been in close touch with the County Council of Sutherland and the interested Government Departments and other bodies regarding its future. I understand that the mine is likely to continue in production at any rate until the end of September and that the possibility of continuing it in operation after that date will depend on the expansion of the local market for the output of the mine, which is being urgently examined by the local interests concerned.

Bahamas (Registered Electors)

62.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what percentage of the total population of the Bahamas are entitled to vote at elections for the House of Assembly.

The latest figures I have are for 1948. The percentage of registered electors to total population is 8.95.

Portsmouth Harbour (Tidal Model)

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he is aware that the hydraulic research organisation of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research cannot proceed with the construction of a tidal model of Portsmouth harbour, required for purposes of land reclamation at Portsmouth, until a new hydraulic research station has been constructed, and that it has been estimated that subsequent investigation by that organisation will take four years; and whether he will either accord priority to the construction of this station or provide other facilities to enable the preparation of the model to proceed at an early date.

Yes. I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) on 12th May, 1949. The construction of the hydraulics research laboratory is one of the most important constructional projects for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and it will be built as soon as possible. The possibility of the Department conducting the investigation elsewhere has been considered, but it has not been thought to be feasible.

Stowaways (Convictions)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been convicted, in the last 12 months, of stowing away from West Africa to the United Kingdom.

Figures for the past 12 months are not available, but during the 10 months August, 1948, to May, 1949, the number was 138.

Income Tax (Paye)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many additional wage earners have become liable to Pay-as-You-Earn Income Tax by reason of the reduced allowance now made for National Insurance contributions; and the total number of Income Tax payers.

None, as the number of people relieved from liability by the exemption of the benefits is likely to be as great as, if not greater than, the number brought into liability by the reduction in the amount of contribution allowable. The total number of Income Tax payers at present is about 14½ million of whom rather less than 13 million come under P.A.Y.E.

Malaya And Singapore

Detentions (Advisory Committees)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now able to provide information as to how many advisory committees there are in Malaya and Singapore; how many persons are on each committee; and what are their qualifications.

There are in Singapore and the Federation of Malaya 15 committees dealing with objections against detention. The chairman must hold or have held judicial office. No special qualifications are required of the other members, who are appointed by the Governor and High Commissioner respectively. In Singapore the chairman and two members must be present and in the Federation the chairman and one member.

Detained Persons

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how the time is occupied of the 4,195 persons detained in Malaya and Singapore; whether they perform productive work; and how they are paid for their labour.

Detainees in Malaya and Singapore are allowed facilities for recreation and receiving visits. They cannot be required to perform any work apart from keeping their accommodation clean and in good order, and preparing food. The question of payment does not therefore arise.

Sugar Industry, British Guiana

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make about the Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry in British Guiana.

The Commission returned from British Guiana at the end of March, and is preparing its Report.

Aden (Housing)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many houses have been built in Aden for workers and on what system are they allocated.

Two hundred and twelve houses for workers have been completed since the war, and 104 are under construction. Houses are allocated by a Housing Committee appointed by the two township authorities. In the Fortress area the Committee works on a points system, and in the suburb of Sheikh Othman the Committee allocates houses to former occupants of shacks, which are destroyed as part of the re-housing scheme.

National Health Service

Specialists' Fees

43.

asked the Minister of Health if he will extend the rule, which prevents a general practitioner from charging a fee to his National Health Service patients, to specialists also.

I have no evidence that consultants charge fees in these circumstances, but if my hon. Friend knows of any such cases I shall be glad to investigate them.

Sight Testing And Spectacles

44.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that particulars were submitted to his Department by the hon. Member for Colchester on 2nd May of a man who, after waiting six weeks for an appointment for sight testing, has now waited more than seven months for the provision of the spectacles required, while his wife is advised that she must wait a total of three months for sight testing from the date of original application; and whether he will take some action to reduce the delay in such cases.

A reply was sent to my hon. Friend on 25th May. Every effort is being made to improve the production of glasses, but I am afraid delays in supply are still inevitable.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the delay in the making up of new spectacles is due to the shortage of lenses, while there are plenty of spectacle frames available; and if he will take steps to reduce the export of lenses until the present delay in the supply of spectacles has been eliminated.

Yes, but I am not prepared to recommend reduction of the small lens exports, which are essential if we are to keep our export market for ophthalmic optical goods generally. Supplies are being improved by the importation of suitable lenses.

Hearing Aids

57.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he will take in the case of Mrs. Duncan of 10 The Curve, W.12, who was informed on 30th May last by her hospital that a hearing aid prescribed on that day by a specialist could not be furnished for at least a year although the aid is of a type made up by the assembly of mass-produced standard parts and the actual supplier is prepared to deliver in 14 days for payment.

Specialists (Patients' Appointments)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that patients seeing specialists under the Health Scheme have to wait for several hours in spite of an appointment having been made; and if, as in the case of busy people and housewives, it is impossible for them to wait indefinitely owing to their duties, a more satisfactory system will be evolved.

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of a circular on this subject sent to hospital authorities on 14th January last.

Hospital Contributory Schemes (Staff)

asked the Minister of Health how many former full-time paid employees of Hospital Contributory Schemes have been thrown out of work as a result of the introduction of the National Health Service; how many have obtained other employment; and what compensation has been awarded them.

I regret that the information is not available to my Department. Employees of Hospital Contributory Schemes are not in general entitled to compensation for loss of office.

Aged Persons' Homes (Registration)

asked the Minister of Health when he proposes to bring into operation Sections 37 to 40 of the National Assistance Act, 1948, relating to the registration of homes for disabled persons and the aged.

I am sorry I cannot yet add anything to the reply given on 24th May last to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, West (Mr. J. Hudson), a copy of which I am sending the hon. Member.

Housing

Kettering Rural District

asked the Minister of Health what were his reasons for disapproving recently two tenders for houses at Braybrooke and Weston-by-Welland in the Kettering rural district; while approving a similar tender for Ashley; and what additional cost or delay will be occasioned by the disapproval.

I am looking into the circumstances and will communicate further with my hon. Friend.

Waiting Lists

asked the Minister of Health whether he is now able to announce the overall analysis of the returns by local authorities of their housing lists; and whether he will publish a statement giving this information.

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Shephard) on 5th May, of which I am sending him a copy. The answer to the second part is "Yes, in due course."

Statistics

asked the Minister of Health how many dwellings were under construction by local authorities at the latest available date and at a similar date in 1948 and 1947; how many dwellings were completed by local authorities at the latest available date; and what is the average period of construction for dwellings by local authorities.

I would refer the hon. Member to the full information given in the periodical Housing Returns.

Peckham Health Centre

asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the question of making a grant to the Peckham Health Centre; and if he will make a statement.

I am still awaiting the information refered to in my reply to the hon. Member's question on 12th May last.