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Written Answers

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 12th July, 1949

British Army

Royal Military Academy

16.

asked the Secretary of State for War the rate of pay for civilian science and mathematics tutors at the Royal Military Academy; how the pay, allowances and conditions of service of these tutors compare with the best conditions that obtain outside Government service; and what shortage there is of civilian tutors at the Royal Military Academy.

There is no strictly comparable institution outside the Government service.The yearly rates of pay for civilian lecturers, to whom I presume the hon. and gallant Member is referring, are as follows: principal lecturer, £950 with an annual increment of £30 to £1,100; lecturer, £350 at 21, with an annual increment of £25 to £900. One increment is given for each year above the age of 21 up to the age of 31. A lecturer of 31 would, therefore, start at £600 a year. Conditions of service for lecturers are generally the same as those of the professional grades of the Civil Service, and do not compare unfavourably with those in the educational world.The nearest civilian lecturer equivalent would probably be found in technical schools and colleges. A comparative table showing the rates of pay of those in technical schools is contained in the Burnham Committee Report of 1948 and my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for South Salford (Mr. Hardy) on 15th March, 1949, gave the salaries of those in universities. There are at present vacancies in four permanent and six temporary posts of lecturers. A Civil Service Commission competition to fill these vacancies is being held shortly.

Service Dress

18.

asked the Secretary of State for War by whom Service dress may be worn, and on what occasions; by whom Sam Browne belts may be worn, and on what occasions; to what extent these regulations are enforced; and what alterations in them he proposes in the near future.

Service dress is obsolescent except for officers of the rank of colonel and above, and officers of horsed units. For the latter, Service dress is the normal dress for mounted parades. Colonels and above are allowed to wear service dress on occasions when not on parade with troops wearing other types of uniform. No other officers are now allowed to buy service dress, but those who still have it may wear it on various occasions, viz., in mess, for walking out, for duties when not parading with troops wearing other uniform, and on certain specified occasions such as Royal investitures, memorial services, and when present as spectators in military parades and ceremonies.Army officers no longer serving are also allowed to wear Service dress on certain occasions of a ceremonial nature if they wish.As regards other ranks, Service dress is issued for wear on parades and when walking out by horsed personnel, bandsmen, drummers, pipers and boys. Sam Browne belts may be worn by officers in Service dress, and undress patrol uniform. They may also be worn with swords by officers in No. 1 dress and warrant officers class I in battle dress. The regulations concerning the wearing of Service dress and Sam Browne belts are enforced and no change is anticipated until No. 1 dress is in general use.

Civilian Employees

20.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many civilian night watchmen and civilian cleaners, respectively, are employed at Army camps in Britain; and what are their average rates of pay, respectively.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question is not readily available, and to obtain it would entail a disproportionate amount of work. If, however, the hon. Member is referring to any specific kind of Army camp, and will let me have particulars. I will have further inquiries made.Watchmen and full-time male cleaners are paid on the minimum rate of wages authorised for unskilled labour at the station of employment and vary according to locality. The common rates are 98s. 0d. and 95s. 0d. a week of 44 hours.

Embarkation Leave

24.

asked the Secretary of State for War what are the normal periods of embarkation leave for drafts proceeding to the principal overseas theatres.

Regular soldiers and National Servicemen who were called-up before 1st April, 1948, are granted 14 days' embarkation leave, except when posted to North-West Europe, when seven days are granted. National Servicemen called-up after 1st April, 1948, are now granted seven days' leave on a suitable occasion after completion of basic training, and a further seven days' embarkation leave is added to this period if they proceed overseas immediately. If they are not sent abroad immediately on completion of basic training but at a later date, they are then granted a further period of seven days' embarkation leave. All National Servicemen called-up after 1st April, 1948, thus now receive a total of 14 days' leave in the United Kingdom before being posted abroad.

Married Quarters (Germany)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for War what profit has been made by the Treasury in the letting of married quarters to all ranks of the British Army of the Rhine.

The charges for married quarters in Germany are at the standard rates for all married quarters at home and abroad. The sums paid are taken as Appropriations-in-Aid to Army Funds. There is no profit.

Tuberculosis

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the case of personnel discharged from the Army for pulmonary tuberculosis it is his practice to send the necessary précis of case notes together with X-ray findings to the civilian doctors who will be in charge.

When an individual is invalided from the Army suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis a notification of his case is sent to the Ministry of Health, who send it on to the appropriate Regional Hospital Board who make arrangements for his treatment. The clinical notes, X-rays, etc., are sent to the hospital to which the patient is duly admitted.

Rheumatic Diseases (Compound E)

32.

asked the Lord President of the Council in view of the satisfactory evidence as to the efficacy of compound E in the treatment of rheumatic diseases, what steps are being taken through the Medical Research Council or other bodies to ensure the production of this drug on a large scale at the earliest possible date.

Research aimed at finding effective new substances akin to compound E is in active progress under the Medical Research Council, but I am advised that all these compounds are exceptionally difficult to make and that early success is not to be expected. Large-scale production of compound E itself is a matter for commercial laboratories rather than the Council, but here again the difficulty of synthesis must hamper speed, and I understand that the American manufacturers of the compound that intimated that it is unlikely to be generally available for use by doctors even in the United States for several years at least.

Festival Of Britain

67.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate has been made as to the increase in foreign visitors to this country which is likely to result from the holding of the great exhibition of 1951; and what arrangements it is proposed to make to ensure that accommodation will be available in time for this increased number of visitors.

It is difficult to make precise estimates of the increase in the number of visitors to this country likely to result directly from the 1951 Festival. Some increase would no doubt have taken place in any case. We think however that the total of overseas visitors may reach the 700,000 mark by 1951, as compared with just over 500,000 last year. Discussions concerning arrangements for the accommodation for visitors to the main Festival centres have already begun between the Festival organisation, the British Tourist and Holidays Board and Government departments concerned.

asked the Lord President of the Council in what way Commonwealth Governments and Administrations are to be invited to participate in the Great Exhibition of 1951.

Owing to shortages of manpower and materials, the Festival of Britain, 1951, to which I take it my hon. Friend refers, has, unfortunately, had to be limited to putting on show the contribution of the United Kingdom to civilisation. It is not, therefore, possible to invite Commonwealth Governments and administrations to arrange for pavilions or other displays in the exhibitions. Commonwealth Governments have, however, been invited to arrange supporting events and to suggest ways in which, within the severe limits of space and materials imposed, the Festival might include suitable references to achievements in their countries.

National Finance

Naval Officers (Gold Braid)

34.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tax is payable by naval officers on gold braid required by regulation for uniform wear.

Thirty-three and one-third per cent. of the wholesale value of the braid.

Sheepskin Rugs

35.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why sheepskin rugs are taxed at 100 per cent. while all other types of floor covering including rubber flooring, are taxed at 33⅓ per cent.

The reason is that these rugs belong to a class including furskins and other skins with hair or wool attached, which can be regarded, comparatively speaking, as luxuries and, therefore, susceptible of the 100 per cent. rate.

Press Release (Duplication)

58.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why Press Release No. 90614/2 was issued by the Central Office of Information, despite the fact that the information contained therein had already been circulated by the General Post Office Chief Press Officer under Reference 182 WNS/6/49; and what steps he is taking to prevent this waste of paper, time and public money.

This was due to an oversight, and is an isolated instance. Great care is taken to avoid duplication.

National Savings

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the net amount of new National Savings in the first quarter of the financial year.

Trade And Commerce

Woollen Cloth

63.

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he anticipates that the output of woollen cloth will be sufficient to meet home demands, in addition to fulfilling export orders.

Output of woollen, as distinct from worsted, cloth is now sufficient in volume to meet home and export demands. Worsted production is limited by lack of labour but the gap between output and demand is diminishing. It is not possible to say when output of all type of materials will be sufficient to meet all demands.

Travellers (Jewellery Licences)

64.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he now refuses travellers permission to take abroad for personal use jewellery in excess of two rings; why the provisions of paragraphs 2 and 3 (a) (iii) of S.I., 1948 No. 2778, which enabled jewellery to be exported under licence, are no longer implemented; and if he will permit a reasonable quantity of jewellery to be taken abroad in accordance with the said provisions, subject to guarantees for its return.

These restrictions are maintained in the interests of conserving our exchange resources in practice, licences are not required for personal valuables up to £2,000 in the case of temporary visitors to other parts of the sterling area, or for items of personal jewellery of small value normally carried by a passenger in the case of visitors to other destinations. Licences for additional items of jewellery are not issued to persons who are travelling on holiday visits, but special consideration is given to applications for licences where visits are for important official and business purposes.The Board of Trade exercises discretion in carrying out the provisions of paragraph 3 (

a) (iii) but normally, in cases where licences are issued, this service is neither necessary nor justifiable. As regards the last part of the Question, we are not prepared to add to the existing concessions at the present time.

Waste Paper (Imports)

65.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent we are now importing paper similar to the middle waste collected under the salvage scheme.

No licences have been granted for the import of mixed waste paper since October last, although small quantities have come forward this year in respect of licences granted earlier. These have, however, been mainly supplies from the Irish Republic to Northern Ireland.

Business Premises, Glasgow (Evictions)

66.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that tenants threatened with eviction from business premises in the City of Glasgow, particulars of which have been forwarded him, include firms directly concerned with essential services, such as the production of reinforced concrete buildings; and if he will use powers to have the premises requisitioned.

In my opinion, none of the cases of which I have received particulars would justify the use of requisitioning powers.

Patent Agents

69.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many registered patent agents are at present practising in the London area.

The current Register of Patent Agents contains the names of 393 persons, of whom 266 have addresses in the London area. It is understood that substantially all of these are in active practice.

Horses (Export)

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of horses exported from this country during the past 12 months for the purposes of work and also for slaughter.

The trade returns do not separately distinguish horses which are for work and those for slaughter. In the period June, 1948, to May, 1949, 7,106 horses for all purposes were exported to the value of £3.6 million.

Haifa Oil Refinery

71.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the estimated loss in dollar revenue so far to this country arising from the closing down of the British owned oil refineries at Haifa.

There has been no direct loss of dollar revenue from oil sales as a result of the closing down of the Haifa refinery. With the refinery operating there might have been some saving in dollar expenditure on oil though it is not possible to evaluate this.

Tubercular Cattle, Scotland

72.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the estimated cost annually arising out of tuberculosis in cattle in Scotland.

A sum of £609,300 has been provided in the Estimates of the Department for the current financial year in respect of tuberculosis in cattle in Great Britain as a whole. I regret that separate figures for Scotland are not available. This does not include an apportionment of the salaries and expenses of whole-time staff which, I am afraid, it would be impracticable to make.

Ministry Of Supply

Copper

73 and 74.

asked the Minister of Supply (1) the present stocks of copper; the average cost; the total amount yet to be taken delivery of on forward contract purchases; and when the contracts terminate;(2) the average price paid for copper already in this country; the average price of the copper yet to be taken delivery of; and today's world prices.

The Ministry of Supply's stocks of virgin copper, including stocks abroad and afloat, amounted to approximately 170,000 tons on 30th June, 1949. It is estimated that a further 150,000 tons will be delivered under our present commitments which extend to the end of 1949, but which are not all covered by contracts with definite terminal dates. Owing to the large number of separate transactions and to other factors, such as charges for refining blister and rough copper and scrap, an average price would have no significance, but the greater part of the copper already delivered was bought at a price related to the New York export price of £130 12s. 5d. a ton. Some of the copper yet to be delivered was bought at a price related to this price and some at prices related to the lower prices prevailing since 29th March, 1949. Prices for the remainder have yet to be fixed. The present New York export price is £97 19s. 4d. a ton f.a.s.

Motor Cars (Government Departments)

asked the Minister of Supply how many Humber Pullman Limousine motor cars have been purchased by Government Departments since 1st January, 1948; and what was the total cost of them.

Thirty-nine were delivered between 1st January, 1948, and 30th June, 1949. It is contrary to established practice to disclose prices paid under Government contracts.

Wells House Hotel, Ilkley

75.

asked the Minister of Works what is the cost to the taxpayer to date of Wells House Hotel, Ilkley; for what purpose was it intended to be used; how long has it been empty and what it is proposed to do with it now.

The total cost to the taxpayer of Wells House Hotel, Ilkley, is £47,500. It was occupied by the Wool Control from September, 1939, to 30th November, 1946, since which date it has been vacant. The total cost of the Wool Control occupation was £29,249. The premises are now being derequisitioned.

asked the Minister of Works how much rent per month has been paid for Wells House Hotel, Ilkley; how many months have elapsed since the Wool Control vacated it; and how much does he expect to have to pay to the owners in compensation for the alterations now that it has been de-requisitioned.

The compensation rent paid for Wells House Hotel, Ilkley, was £179 per month. The Wool Control vacated the premises on 30th November, 1946, and the terms of de-requisitioning are now being negotiated.

Telephone Service

Exchange, Llanbedr

asked the Postmaster-General what steps are being taken to expedite the installation of an automatic telephone exchange at Llanbedr, Merioneth.

A site has been obtained for the automatic telephone exchange at Llanbedr, and tenders for the new building will shortly be invited. Erection of the building, and manufacture, installation and testing of the equipment is unlikely to be completed before the end of 1950.

Exchange, Scremby

asked the Postmaster-General when the telephone exchange at Scremby, Lincolnshire, will be sufficiently enlarged to be able to deal with additional subscribers.

I am pleased to say that it has now been possible to provide additional equipment at Scremby which will enable service to be given to waiting subscribers.

Animal Meat

asked the Minister of Food what is the loss expressed as a percentage when lean meat is processed into chicken food; and to what extent a saving could be made by the separation of the lean meat from the fat.

The loss on processing lean meat into meat meal for animal feeding is equal to the moisture driven off which, though variable, is approximately 40 per cent. There would be no saving in the processing by separating lean meat from fat; the loss would still be the extent of the moisture driven off. The resultant products would still consist of edible fat, grease or tallow (according to the raw material processed) and meat meal.

asked the Minister of Food if he will grant an allocation of animal lean meat to Wallasey, Cheshire, as the nearest knacker yard is at Saltney, near Chester.

I assume that the Question refers to meat condemned at Government slaughterhouses as unfit for human consumption. This is normally disposed of to licensed technical fat melters who process it into urgently needed tallows, greases, glues, fertilisers and rationed protein feedingstuffs for farm animals. I am afraid I cannot agree to treat Wallasey exceptionally by diverting local supplies of slaughterhouse condemned meat to pets' meat shops.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that knackers' yards in Lancashire and Cheshire are opening their own retail shops and refusing to supply the trade elsewhere; and what action he proposes to take to end this practice and to remedy the shortage of animal meat in Wallasey, Cheshire.

I do not control the distribution of meat from knackers' yards. It is largely obtained from sick or casualty animals, whose flesh is not fit for human consumption, and supplies are consequently intermittent and limited in many areas. It would be impossible to operate any allocation scheme.

Anti-Distemper Serum

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the approximate number of dogs used during the year 1947 in the production of anti-distemper serum; and whether he can give an assurance that animals used in the manufacture of drugs or sera for medical or veterinary purposes are subject to the supervision of the inspectors appointed under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876.

I cannot give my hon. Friend the figure for which he asks as I am advised that in the production of sera no experiment within the scope of the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, is made until the stage when the strength and purity of the product is tested. The number of dogs used in the testing of anti-distemper sera or vaccines during 1947 was approximately 450, and the places where such experiments are made are subject to inspection under the Act.

Scotland

Jetty, Berneray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received an application for financial assistance from Inverness County Council for the construction of a jetty and/or road in the Isle of Berneray, in Harris.

No, but I understand that the County Council have agreed to include the building of a jetty at Berneray in their programme of marine works for the current year. I shall be ready to consider an application for a grant as soon as plans are submitted.

Farmland, Tong

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what the position now is regarding the acquisition and development by the Department of Agriculture of the farmland at Tong, Isle of Lewis.

In accordance with the procedure laid down in Section 57 of the Agriculture (Scotland) Act, 1948, I have referred this proposal to the Scottish Land Court for a Report.