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Written Answers

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 28th June, 1949

Town And Country Planning

Rural Houses


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning on what grounds the Central Land Board has ruled that houses erected for, or occupied by, a farmer, a farm bailiff or manager or the resident agent of an agricultural estate, do not qualify for the special arrangements made in respect of houses reserved for members of the agricultural population under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947.

Such houses do not come within the concession promised when the Bill was before Parliament. The concession was made to foster agriculture by encouraging the building of cottages for farm workers and I see no reason to extend it to the classes of persons mentioned in the Question.

New Town, Mobberley


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how many deep bore-holes were sunk, and what was the depth and cost of each, in the site which was under consideration for the development of a new town at Mobberley by his Department prior to August 1948; and what was the result of these borings.

Eleven deep bore-holes were sunk in the Mobberley area between February, 1947, and June, 1948. The first group, costing £4,507, consisted of four holes, which went to depths of 400, 400, 775 and 200 feet respectively. The second group, costing £11,433, consisted of seven holes, which went to depths of 900, 685, 551, 600, 550, 650 and 813 feet respectively. It is not possible to apportion the cost accurately to the individual holes.As regards the result of these borings I have been advised that whereas they show that the eastern part of the site originally proposed would be liable to subsidence, the western half is likely to remain stable; and it is probable that the new site which is now under consideration will include this western half.

National Insurance

Nurses (Tuberculosis)


asked the Minister of National Insurance to what extent nurses and other health workers who contract pulmonary tuberculosis in the course of their employment are now entitled to benefit under the Industrial Injuries Act.

The question whether, in the absence of regulations prescribing tuberculosis as an industrial disease, insured workers in these classes suffering from tuberculosis can claim benefit under the Industrial Injuries Act as for an industrial accident can only be determined by the statutory authorities on the facts of the particular case.

Industrial Diseases (Report)


asked the Minister of National Insurance whether the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council have yet completed their consideration of the Dale Report; and what recommendations they have made for the extension of the list of prescribed industrial diseases.

As I said in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams) on 25th January the Advisory Council have given me their views on the general matters which I referred to them. As regards the second part of the question, Beryllium poisoning has been added to the list of prescribed diseases and I am at present considering a recommendation about certain forms of cancer among nickel workers.

Old Age Pensioners (Earnings Rule)


asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will now introduce legislation to raise the earning limit for old age pensioners above which the amount of pension payable may be reduced, from 20s. to 40s.

The earnings rule applies only to those under age 70 (65 for women) who have retired from regular work. It is an integral part of general provisions designed to encourage all who can to continue in regular employment beyond minimum pensionable age. On the information at present before me. I am not satisfied that the change suggested would serve this national interest.


Dental Technicians (Training Scheme)


asked the Minister of Labour how many trainees who took a dental technician's training under the voluntary training scheme have been placed in employment by his Department as dental technicians; and whether he is satisfied that this scheme has been successful.

All but one of the 41 trainees who have completed these courses were placed in employment at the end of the course. The scheme has been highly successful, and I should have liked to have seen more use made of it.

Harvest (Foreign Workers)


asked the Minister of Labour how many European workers he expects to be available to help with the harvest this year.

There are some 48,000 European workers employed in agriculture of whom 27,500 are employed by county agricultural committees and the Department of Health for Scotland. This includes some 7,000 Poles and 16,000 ex-prisoners of war, as well as E.V.Ws. No additional foreign workers are likely to be available specially for harvest work.

Coi Post (Application)

asked the Minister of Labour if he will inform the House on what date Mr. Edwyn Light, of Forge Cottage, Withyham, Sussex, applied for the advertised post of senior executive officer in the Central Office of Information; on what date he was finally told his application was unsuccessful; and what was the reason for this long delay in reaching a decision.

Mr. Light was submitted by London Appointments Office for the post of senior executive officer in the Central Office of Information on 10th November, 1948. The Appointments Office was informed by C.O.I. on 9th December that the vacancy had been cancelled and I understand that Mr. Light was so informed by the C.O.I.

Police, Scotland (Oaksey Report)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the dissatisfaction in the various grades of the public service in Scotland, including the chief constables, with certain provisions of the Oaksey Report; and if he proposes to take any steps to meet tbe objections.

I am aware that criticisms of various details in the recommendations of the Oaksey Report have been made by Scottish police organisations and that other criticisms have been made by other parties. As indicated in the Statement on Pay and Conditions of Service of Police (Cmd. 7707), however, His Majesty's Government have accepted the recommendations of the Committee as a whole and are taking steps to implement them.

National Finance

Economic Planning Board (Members)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total cost of the Economic Planning Board during 1948; how much of this cost was represented by salaries paid; and how much represented travelling and other personal expenses incurred by members of the Board.

The salaries and travelling expenses of the seven official members of the Board are borne by their Departments, but it is not practicable to identify what portion of them it attributable to work solely connected with the Board. No charge to public funds has arisen in respect of the six non-official members.

Dollar Allowance (Mr Graham Greene)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason Mr. Graham Greene was refused the businessman's allowance of £10 a day when he wished to proceed to New York in order to negotiate concerning a dramatic version of his book, "The Heart of the Matter."

£10 per day is a maximum and the amount allotted must depend on the purposes and on the duration of the visit. Mr. Graham Greene did not state in his application, as he did in his letter to "The Times" either that he had a contract, or that the dramatic version had to be written in New York under the contract, or that royalties had already been advanced to him or that even if the play were unsuccessful the dollars earned would reimburse his expenditure, nor could any further information as to his requirements be obtained on application to his bankers who lodged the request, as they stated that Mr. Greene was away. Had Mr. Greene vouchsafed to the Bank of England the facts now disclosed by him, they would undoubtedly have granted him a larger allotment of dollars on the production of suitable evidence of his arrangements.

National Debt


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the National Debt relates to the cost of previous wars in which Great Britain was engaged; how much to the compensation payable to the former owners of nationalised undertakings; and for tax purposes what sum these amounts separately represent per head of the population.

The portion of the National Debt attributable to past wars cannot be isolated and the calculations suggested in the third part of the Question cannot therefore be made.The following issues of Government Stock have so far been made by way of compensation to former owners of nationalised undertakings: Under the Bank of England Act, 1946—£58.2 million; under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946—£78.5 million; under the Cable and Wireless Act, 1946—£31.4 million. Further amounts of Government stock will be issued under the Coal Act when the valuation proceedings have been completed. Compensation paid under other nationalisation measures does not form part of the National Debt. The interest on the first two amounts of Stock shown above is recovered by the Exchequer from the Bank of England and the National Coal Board respectively. Interest on the third amount of stock represents roughly 4.8d. per head of population.

Purchase Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now able to make proposals to recompense traders for losses incurred on their stocks due to a reduction of Purchase Tax.

Discussions are in progress, but I am not in a position to make any statement at present.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, when licences are granted for the sale in this country of goods which it has been impossible to export and such goods are of the same quality as utility goods, he will take steps for the removal of Purchase Tax from such goods.

As I have explained in connection with the Finance Bill, I could not contemplate any fresh Purchase Tax exemptions in present circumstances.

Sterling Balances


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the undertaking given by His Majesty's Government under Article 10 (1) (c) of the Anglo-American Financial Agreement to scale down sterling balances, when His Majesty's Government propose to take the action there envisaged.

There is nothing in Article 10 of the Anglo-American Financial Agreement to suggest that sterling balances should be scaled down by unilateral action on the part of His Majesty's Government. His Majesty's Government will take action as soon as the other parties are prepared to agree.

War Damage Compensation (Egypt)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the sums payable for war damage compensation by this country and Egypt, respectively, to nationals of the two countries under Command Paper No. 7710.

We have at present no means of knowing what sums may be payable to British nationals by the Egyptian Government as their claims for compensation are only now being submitted. No separate records of sums payable in respect of war damage compensation to foreign nationals in this country have been kept, and the information requested could only be obtained by an excessive expenditure of time and labour.

Anglo-Portuguese Payments Agreement


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any further statement to make on the Anglo-Portuguese payments agreement.

Exchange Equalisation Account


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what objections there now are which make it undesirable to disclose the operations of the Exchange Equalisation Account; and whether he will state who, outside His Majesty's Treasury, has knowledge of these operations.

Operations of the Exchange Equalisation Account include the general business of meeting the daily requirements of the community, the transactions carried out with foreign central banks, which could in any case not be disclosed without the consent of the other parties to the transactions, and the day-to-day management of the central reserves of the sterling area. I announce, at the end of each quarter, the amounts of our gold and dollar holdings. I do not consider it to be in the public interest to publish these operations in greater detail. The details of operations undertaken by the Account are known only to His Majesty's Treasury and to the Bank of England who are responsible to His Majesty's Treasury for the management of the Exchange Equalisation Account.

Racecourse Totalisator (Turnover)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was informed of the substantial increase in the 1948 turnover of the racecourse totalisator as compared with that for 1947; and, in view of the negligible contribution made from this turnover towards taxation and the breeding of horses, why taxation, comparable to that on the football pools, has not been imposed.

When the Accounts of the Racecourse Betting Control Board were published on 21st June. The increase in turnover shown by those accounts does not, in my view, affect the arguments which have hitherto prevailed against taxation of this form of betting.

Profit-Sharing Schemes


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the terms of reference of the Tucker Committee are such as to enable them to investigate possible means of encouraging profit-sharing by taxation concessions.

The treatment of profit-sharing schemes for taxation purposes would be within the Committee's terms of reference so far as the computation of the employer's net profits is concerned.

Timber (Uses)


asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury when he anticipates that his examination of the possibility of making greater use of timber and so releasing steel and other materials will be completed.

As I told my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Sharp) in reply to a similar Question on 31st May, the examination is covering a wide field, and I cannot yet say when it will be completed.

Sterling Transfers (Foreign Exporters)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action has been taken by His Majesty's Government to ensure that sterling earned by exporters to this country is not used for the purchase of British or sterling area goods by countries other than those authorised to use it under the payments agreement now in force between His Majesty's Government and countries outside the sterling area; and what proportion of sterling liable to this misuse is now covered.

Sterling earned by exporters to this country cannot be properly transferred to persons other than those authorised to use it under the relevant payments agreement without the permission of the Bank of England. So far more than half of the members of the transferable account area have agreed to the limitation of the use of their transferable sterling to direct current transactions.

Civil Servants (Political Activities)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has now received the Report of the Committee which he appointed last year to inquire into the existing limitations on the political activities which may be undertaken by civil servants; and whether he will make a statement.

Yes. Copies of the Report will be available in the Vote Office today. The Government have considered this document and have decided to accept the Committee's recommendations. The detailed arrangements to give effect to the Committee's findings are being considered and will be promulgated as soon as possible. I would like, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, to thank the chairman, Mr. J. C. Master-man, and the other members of the Committee for this valuable Report.

Trade And Commerce

Machinery (Import Duties)


asked the President of the Board of Trade why, in view of Government appeals for the need of increased production, is import duty being charged on machinery ordered from abroad for immediate delivery for the purpose of quicker and more efficient production and when there is 18 months delay for delivery on home-made machinery.

Under the Import Duties (General) Order, 1935, as amended by subsequent orders made by the Treasury under the authority of the Import Duties Act, 1932, machinery and parts thereof are liable to duty on importation into the United Kingdom at rates ranging from 15 to 33⅓ per cent. ad valorem. Exceptionally under Section 10, Finance Act, 1932, as subsequently amended, the Treasury, after consultation with the Board of Trade, may by licence authorise the importation of a consignment of machinery without payment of all or any of the duties chargeable under the Import Duties Act, 1932, if it is considered expedient to do so. Applications for licences may be made on the ground that similar machinery is not for the time being procurable in the United Kingdom, and a substantial amount of duty is in fact remitted on current applications. The need for quicker and more efficient production is met, in appropriate cases, by the issue of an import licence.

Auctions (Control Relaxation)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what modifications he has made in connection with Statutory Rule and Order No. 1496 of 1947, which forbids any person to enter goods for sale by auction more than once every six months; and if he will reconsider his decision not to revoke the order.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the reasons for the regulation that no dealer may enter his goods for sale by public auction without the consent of the Board of Trade; and how long he intends to maintain the regulation in force.

The purpose of this control is to ensure that advantage is not taken of auction facilities to carry on a business in price-controlled goods without complying with the price control regulations; and we do not consider that the time has arrived when this control can be entirely removed. An order has, however, been made which frees from control the auctioning and sale by tender of most secondhand goods and which simplifies the form of control for goods remaining subject to it. The provision for a formal declaration which had the effect of preventing a person from entering price-controlled goods in auctions more than once every six months is omitted. The goods for which a licence to auction or sell by tender is required under the new order are new price-controlled goods and also a small group of secondhand goods if, and only if, they are, or recently have been, part of the stock in trade of a business. All other secondhand goods, including furniture, may be freely sold by auction or by tender by anyone, including traders. The new order comes into force tomorrow.

Wood Pulp


asked the President of the Board of Trade the date from which the Government will allow a free market in wood pulp for paper making and newsprint.

No. I do not contemplate any change in the existing arrangements in the immediate future.

Secondhand Furniture (Prices)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the low prices now generally prevailing for secondhand furniture other than antiques, he will free the controls on secondhand furniture.

I do not think the time is ripe for abandonment of control over the prices of all secondhand furniture. We are, however, looking into the position as regards non-utility furniture, and an order has already been made removing the first-hand price limit on secondhand sales of such furniture. This order, which comes into force on 11th July, will in no way modify the present control over the distributor's margin.

New Industrial Projects, Wales

72 and 73.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many new firms have been established in Wales since 1945 through the efforts of his Welsh Regional Office;(2) how many new factories and extensions have been established in Wales since 1945; and how many people are employed in these new factories and extensions.

Out of a total of more than 600 industrial projects which have been established in Wales since 1945, 408 are of firms entirely new to Wales. My hon. Friend will appreciate, however, that it is impossible to determine with precise accuracy how many have been established as a result of the efforts of the Board of Trade Wales Office. But the Board can justifiably claim that they have assisted a very large proportion of these firms in one way or another. At present these projects are giving employment to about 65,000 persons, but I hope eventually they will provide work for 125,000. Of the total number of projects, 400 are either new factories or extensions to existing factories: 187 of these have been completed and 104 are in course of construction. The number employed in the completed factories and extensions is about 15,000.

Dollar Imports And Exports


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give the index figures for the price level of our imports from and exports to the dollar area in 1947 and 1948, based on 1938.

I regret that the information asked for is not available. I have, however, had calculated index numbers of the prices of imports from and exports to North America in 1948, and I give the figures below. It would not be practicable to produce such index numbers for both 1947 and 1948 using 1938 as a base, or to extend the calculation to cover our trade with the dollar area as a whole.Following are the figures:—

1948 Price Index (1938 = 100)
United Kingdom Imports from North America262
United Kingdom Exports to North America248

Cotton Textiles (Japanese Competition)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any progress has been made in the discussions between the United Kingdom and the United States cotton textile industries on the proposal for a joint mission to Japan about the international trade in cotton textiles.

There have not been any definite developments since the reply which was given to the hon. and gallant Member, on this subject on 3rd May.

Company Directors


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many directors of private and public companies separately are registered at Somerset House; and how these numbers compare with those before the war.

There is no register of directors as such and I regret that the information asked for by my hon. Friend is therefore not available.

Bulk Purchase Contracts (Canada)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what contracts exist between the United Kingdom and the Dominion of Canada for bulk purchase of timber, paper pulp, and copper; when they were entered upon; and when they expire.

We have made contracts with individual Canadian suppliers for woodpulp, hardwood, softwood and mining timber. It would be contrary to normal practice to disclose details. These contracts were made in the latter half of 1948 and expire during the current year. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply that contracts for the Supply of copper have been entered into between his Department and various Canadian copper producers. Contracts were placed between June, 1948, and March, 1949, covering deliveries up to the end of this year.

Commodity And Trade Controllers


asked the President of the Board of Trade the present annual salary, annual personal expenses, number of staff employed, staff wages or salaries, number of employees in trade controlled; and the annual value of the trade controlled for each of his Department's commodity or trade controllers.

I am writing to the hon. Member but in the meantime I would refer him to the Annual Estimates for the Board of Trade and to the Trading Accounts and Balance Sheets for 1947–48.

Cloth And Leather Prices

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that no additional profits were made by manufacturers and distributors in the leather, textile and clothing trade as a result of the price increases following the withdrawal of the subsidies from cloth and leather.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply that was given to the similar Question which he asked on 21st September last.

Yarn Allocation (Exporters)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now consider modifying his policy of giving absolute priority to exporters as regards the yarn allocation to be made to manufacturers by the hosiery controller.

No. In view of the vital need for increased exports, particularly to the North American market, any relaxation in our efforts to expand exports would be entirely unjustifiable.

British Army

Military Rehearsals (Traffic Congestion)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, with a view to avoiding unnecessary traffic congestion in central London, he will consider mustering Guardsmen for military rehearsals on the Horse Guards on the actual parade ground instead of marching them there in column of route from nearby Wellington Barracks.



asked the Secretary of State for War what was the number of personnel discharged from the Army suffering from tuberculosis in 1947 and subsequent years; and whether such discharged personnel receive X-ray examinations at the time their medical unfitness for further service is determined.

The answer to the first part of the Question is given in the table below. As regards the second part of the Question, all cases of tuberculosis are X-rayed, either at the time their medical unfitness for service is determined or shortly before. Apart from any other consideration periodic X-ray examinations are made of all cases undergoing treatment for tuberculosis as this is necessary to assess progress.

Following is the answer to the first part of the Question:

The numbers of personnel discharged from the Army suffering from tuberculosis in 1947 and subsequent years were as follows:

1949 (1st Quarter only)

War Graves (Relatives' Visits)


asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements exist for relatives to visit war graves in Germany.

As announced in the Press on 3rd June, 1949, the British zone of Germany was opened to visitors from other countries from midnight 20th-21st June, 1949. The arrangements for relatives to visit war graves there are precisely the same as for those of France, Belgium, Holland and Italy, details of which were given in reply to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Dumpleton) on 29th March and the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) on 13th April.

Desertion Charge (Mistaken Identity)


asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the case of 19193445 Gunner Gordon Lester, Royal Artillery, who was treated as a deserter as a result of mistaken identity; and if he will take steps to avoid such occurrences in the future.

This unfortunate occurrence, which was the result of mistaken identity, is very much regretted. My right hon. Friend has called for a full report and when this has been considered he will write to my hon. Friend.

Ministry Of Works

Offices, Whitstable


asked the Minister of Works what was the cost of converting, redecorating and equipping premises in Whitstable to act as the offices of the Ministry of National Insurance.

The cost was £553 made up of £303 for adapting the premises and £250 for equipment.

Stirling Castle


asked the Minister of Works what steps he proposes to take for the restoration or protection of the Hall of Parliament at Stirling Castle.

My Department has always had in mind, as a long-term policy, the desirability of restoring the historical buildings in Stirling Castle. A considerable amount of exploratory work will be necessary, however, before any decision can be reached about the Hall of Parliament, which is at present in military occupation.

Injured Workmen (Damages)


asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that in cases where injured workmen accept National Health Insurance benefit pending a settlement of a claim for damages against an employer it is the practice of insurance companies to deduct 100 per cent. of the amount paid from the damages agreed upon; and whether he will introduce legislation to end this practice.

Under the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act, 1948, if an injured person brings an action for damages, the court is required to deduct one half of the amount of any industrial injury benefit, industrial disablement benefit or sickness benefit received by the injured person over a period of five years from the date of the injury from any damages for loss of earnings awarded to him. This rule must be well known to those advising injured workmen and it is presumably taken into account when a claim for damages is settled by agreement. I am not aware of the practice referred to by the hon. Member, and it would, of course, be quite wrong for any insurance company to represent to an injured workman that the whole of his National Insurance benefit is required by law to be deducted from any damages received. I do not consider that there is any need to introduce legislation on this subject.


asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that certain insurance companies are deducting 50 per cent. of the amount paid out under the Industrial Injuries Act to a workman who has sustained injuries and who elects later to claim damages under another Act and settles for a lump sum payment; and whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that an injured workman receives the full damages agreed upon and that insurance companies do not benefit at the expense of the State or injured workman.

The practice referred to by the hon. Member appears to give effect to the rule contained in the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act, 1948. The Government does not consider that any change is called for in a rule which has so recently been approved by Parliament.

Anthracite Supplies, Lockerbie

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that there have been no supplies of anthracite singles at Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, for the last six months; and what action he is taking to remedy this situation.

Although there was some delay in the arrival of anthracite singles ordered by the merchant in March supplies have been available in Lockerbie to meet the reasonable needs of consumers throughout the winter. No complaint of shortage has been received by the local fuel overseer but if the hon. Member knows of any consumer who has an appliance which will only burn anthracite and who is unable to obtain supplies I will have further inquiries made.

Defence Expenditure

asked the Minister of Defence the cost per head of the population of expenditure on the Defence Services and of armaments in the following years 1909, 1914, 1918, 1921, 1930, 1937, 1939, 1945 and 1947.

The following table gives the approximate Defence expenditure per head of the population for the years in question.

* These figures take account of sums provided by issues from the Consolidated Fund in accordance with the terms of the Defence Loans Acts, 1937 and 1939.

Royal Navy (Books)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what is the total number of books for educational and recreational purposes in the possession of the Royal Navy.

The total number of books, other than those in use for purely Naval training purposes, is 229,000; 131,000 educational and 98,000 recreational.

Women's Land Army

asked the Minister of Agriculture who appoints the secretaries, organisers and assistant secretaries of the county committees of the Women's Land Army; what qualifications are looked for; and on what basis the remuneration of the posts is determined.

The county staff of the Women's Land Army is appointed by the headquarters of the organisation. The qualifications looked for are administrative experience, knowledge of country life and, in the case of county organisers, welfare experience. The remuneration of the posts is determined by the responsibilities attaching to them and the qualifications required.

Whisky (Export Prices)

asked the Minister of Food why 861,000 proof gallons of whisky were sold to Canada during 1948 valued at £1,799,000 when the export price is 30s. a gallon; and what steps he proposes to take to increase the price of whisky sold to Canada so as to improve the dollar position.

The export price of whisky is not fixed; standard brands normally sell at 60s. per case containing about 1.4 proof gallons or two liquid gallons but the prices for de luxe brands for export are considerably higher. This accounts for the discrepancy to which my hon. Friend has drawn attention. We do not propose to interfere with the discretion of the trade in the matter of price.