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Written Answers

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 19th July, 1949

Scotland

Slaughterhouses

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he considers local authorities will be permitted to provide modern slaughterhouse premises and equipment necessary in the interests of food hygiene and public health.

Work on slaughterhouses in Scotland may be authorised at the present time if it is urgent and essential from the standpoint of public health and food hygiene.

Housing

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the priorities on which the recent allocation of new permanent houses was made to the building programmes of the local authorities.

As I told the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) on 28th June, the allocations to individual local authorities were made after a careful consideration of the needs of each area and of the amount of housing work already in hand. This is to secure that the available labour and materials will be used to the best advantage for the completion of the maximum possible number of houses.

Hotel, Peebles (Development Charge)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the present owner of Venlaw Castle Hotel, Peebles, is being charged £300 per year development charge for his hotel.

I regret I cannot undertake to answer questions about the basis on which development charges are determined. This is a matter within the day-to-day administration of the Central Land Board. I should, however, explain that in the present case the charge is not £300 a year but a total of £300 for three years.

British Army

Cadets (Boots)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for War if cadets are given a free issue of boots, or whether, in order to stimulate recruiting, he will consider making a free issue.

I am afraid that it is not practicable to make a free issue of boots to cadets.

Troopship, Suez Canal (Jewish Personnel)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for War if it was with his knowledge and approval that, in June, a notice appeared on the notice board of H.M.T. "Dilwara," ordering all Jewish personnel on board to report to the adjutant, in view of the fact that the Egyptian authorities require notification of all Jews on board the ship when passing through the Suez Canal; and what steps are being taken to prevent differentiation against British subjects on grounds of religious belief.

I have no knowledge of the incident referred to. Inquiries are, however, being made and when they are completed I will write to the hon. Member.

Economic Situation

36.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is satisfied with the success of his policy of giving the public sufficient opportunity of learning the facts of the country's economic position.

My right hon. and learned Friend is satisfied that the public have a much better understanding of the economic situation than formerly and to that extent the policy mentioned by the hon. Member has been successful.

National Insurance (Retirement Pensions)

26.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will allow persons who have retired from active work, but have been refused retirement allowance on the ground that their responsibilities are inconsistent with retirement, to exercise an option to receive the old pension of 10s. per week where they have previously contracted for this on a voluntary basis in accordance with the legislation prior to the National Insurance Act, 1946.

No. I would refer the hon. Member to the statements made by my right hon. Friend on this subject on 22nd March this year in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), a copy of which I am sending him.

Bridge, Henley (Lighting)

23.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he has considered the proposal referred to him to erect lamp standards on the ancient stone bridge crossing the River Thames at Henley; and whether, in view of the beauty of this bridge and the disfigurement that would result, steps can be taken to ensure that if lighting is necessary it should be achieved by other means than mounting lamp columns on the structure of the bridge itself.

My right hon. Friend is consulting my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. Adequate lighting of the bridge is essential for the safety of road users. Efforts are, however, being made to find a means of lighting which will not impair the beauty of the bridge and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is in touch with the Royal Fine Art Commission.

Income Tax (Deduction Tables)

45 and 46.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1) why special instructions were not issued to employers in 1948 informing them that new tax deduction tables for weeks 14–21 would not be issued in 1949;(2) if a supply of the 1949 tax deduction tables, weeks 14–21 can be immediately sent to the Bury St. Edmunds. Suffolk office, for those employers who have lost or mislaid the 1948 copies.

A special instruction not to destroy the 1948 tables since they might be needed again, was printed in bold type on the front page of the tables. A supply of the tables is now available at the tax office for employers who has lost or mislaid their copies.

Trade And Commerce

China (Anglo-Us Discussions)

50.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the nature of the recent discussions with United States authorities regarding trade with China; and what decisions were reached.

The discussions with United States officials in London concerned trade policy in regard to China and were entirely informal and exploratory No decisions were reached.

Hardwood Imports (Prices)

51.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the difference between the minimum prices laid down by the Association of Nigerian Timber Merchants for reserved timbers under the Hardwood Overseas Procurement Scheme and the maximum prices laid down in Order 497 after taking into account cost of transport, handling commissions and other necessary costs.

Maximum prices for most private imports of hardwood under the scheme known as the Hardwood Overseas Procurement Scheme, Part III, are not laid down in S.I. 497 of 1949 (the Imported Hardwood Prices Order, 1949), but are separately fixed by individual orders in each case. There is no necessary relationship between the prices which any overseas trade association may fix for hardwoods and their statutory price in this country. I have no information about the prices charged by the Association of Nigerian Timber Merchants.

Resale Price Maintenance (Report)

52.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, before taking any final decisions about the implementation of the Report of the Resale Price Maintenance Committee, he will initiate an inquiry into the extent to which such implementation would oblige shopkeepers, and especially small shopkeepers, to reduce the wages or number of their assistants.

Cotton Industry (Re-Equipment)

56.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made in re-equipping the spinning side of the cotton textile industry; and if he is satisfied with the rate of progress.

Twenty-four groups of cotton spinning mills have now been registered for the purposes of the Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act, 1948, covering 314 mills and 19½ million spinning spindles. Modernisation plans have not yet been received from 16 of the groups, which cannot be regarded as entirely satisfactory. I hope these groups will take steps to secure the benefit of the subsidy. On the other hand, deliveries of spinning machinery to the cotton industry have increased in recent months and orders on the books of the spinning machinery makers at 31st March, 1949, from the cotton industry, were over 40 per cent. higher than 12 months previously.

57.

asked the President of the Board of Trade in how many cases the payment of subsidies for re-equipping cotton spinning mills has been made conditional upon the provision of improved welfare facilities.

No payment of subsidy under the Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act, 1948, has yet been made but the earlier stage of approval of modernisation plans is made conditional upon a satisfactory report from the Factory Inspectorate on the arrangements for safety, health and welfare. Thirty-six plans have so far been approved and in 31 cases provision has been included for improved welfare arrangements. In the remaining five cases, the existing arrangements have been considered adequate.

National Health Service (Dental Treatment)

59.

asked the Minister of Health why, for dental treatment under the National Health Service, an anaesthetic is administered by a doctor without charge to a patient on his list, whereas for similar treatment by a private dentist, the same doctor charges the same patient a fee for such anaesthetic; and whether provision will be made for the right to receive an anaesthetic under the National Health Service to be the same in the case of treatment by a private dentist as in other cases.

Responsibility for providing an anaesthetic for dental treatment carried out under the National Health Service rests on the dentist who receives payment for the administration of the anaesthetic and makes his own arrangements with the anaesthetist. The treatment which a doctor is required to give a patient on his list does not include the administration of an anaesthetic at a dental operation and there is nothing to prevent the charging of a fee for this service where the dental treatment is given under a private arrangement.

Employment

Remploy Factories, West Riding

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give details of the Remploy factories now operating in the West Riding of Yorkshire, showing the numbers employed at each; the numbers for whom employment is available; and the type of goods produced.

Following is the information:

No. of severely disabled persons employed.Capacity.Production.
Halifax4445Book repairs.
Stump socks.
Pontefract7375Woodwork including utility furniture.
Sheffield58150Light engineering.
Wakefield1150Leatherwork.
TOTAL186320

asked the Minister of Labour what is the revised programme for providing additional Remploy factories in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

The present programme provides for additional factories at Leeds (two factories), Barnsley, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Rotherham, Bradford and Doncaster. It is hoped that the factory at Barnsley will be in operation within a few weeks and the two at Leeds within two or three months, but it is not possible at present to make any statement about the opening of the others.

Macclesfield And Congleton

asked the Minister of Labour how many unemployed men and women were registered with the employment exchange at Macclesfield and Congleton at latest convenient date.

At 13th June, 79 males and 10 females at Macclesfield and 60 males and nine females at Congleton.

Housing (Civil Servants)

asked the Minister of Health on how many occasions he has offered to increase new house allocation to a local authority provided priority is given to their occupation by civil servants.

I have records of five cases, where Government offices are to be located permanently in the areas.

Smoke Abatement

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the present powers in connection with smoke abatement are adequate.

In the main the legal powers are adequate. The chief difficulties are practical ones.

Bbc (Russian Broadcasts)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a further statement on the efforts made to overcome the jamming by the Russians of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Russian broadcasts, in view of the fact that the announcement on 10th July of the full details of the wavelengths and metre bands on which broadcasts will take place in future is of material assistance to the Russians in their jamming efforts.

On Sunday, 10th July, the time-table of the B.B.C.'s Russian broadcasts was modified and an additional bulletin was introduced (2115–2145 G.M.T.). The object of these measures was to add to the difficulties of the jamming organisation in its attempts to cover the whole range of the B.B.C.'s broadcasts. The broadcasting of the details of the B.B.C.'s arrangements would not materially aid the jamming organisation and is, of course, the only means of providing the audience with the information they need in order to listen to the B.B.C.

Imported Meat (Distribution)

asked the Minister of Food through what channels his Department distributes the first-grade meat which is received in this country from Commonwealth sources; and what action he takes to ensure that such high quality meat is distributed to the public as part of their normal ration.

Imported meat, from any source, suitable for the ration is distributed through the Meat Importers' National Defence Association, Limited, and the Wholesale Meat Supply Associations. These are Government-sponsored associations comprising those firms who undertook the importation and wholesale distribution of meat before the war. Every care is taken to see that supplies of the various qualities of meat are spread as fairly as possible.

Fertilisers (Prices)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether it is intended to continue the present stabilised price of fertilisers to farmers.

The prices of fertilisers have been stabilised since October, 1940, and no change in this policy is proposed during the fertiliser year 1st July, 1949, to 30th June, 1950. Thereafter it is intended that the subsidy on fertilisers shall be withdrawn in two approximately equal stages during the fertiliser years 1950–51 and 1951–52. The increases in the cost of fertilisers to farmers will be included among the factors to be taken into account at the annual price reviews of agricultural products.