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Written Answers

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 28th June, 1950

Nigeria (Disturbances)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, pending publication, he will make available to the Press the minutes of evidence given at the inquiry into the Enugu disturbances.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now prepared to publish the minutes of the evidence given at the inquiry into the recent disturbances in the Eastern Province of Nigeria.

Arrangements have been made for the Stationery Office to publish in duplicated form the verbatim record of the proceedings of the Commission. I hope that publication will take place within three weeks.

Colonial Empire



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what Colonies have applied for loans under the Colonial Loans Act of 1949, by which His Majesty's Government guarantees repayment of principal and interest for loans to Colonial territories up to £50 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Sarawak And North Borneo (Taxation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Income Tax in Sarawak and North Borneo is confined to tax on companies.

Income Tax is to be extended to individuals as soon as certain difficulties can be overcome. In particular trained technical staff, of which there is an acute shortage, has to be obtained to operate the tax. The yield from individual taxation is expected to be comparatively small.

American Investment


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to encourage American investment in the Colonial Empire.

Our policy is, in general, to welcome American investment in the Colonies. But we have to bear in mind that such investment normally carries with it a dollar liability for remittance of dividends or profits and an ultimate liability for repatriation of capital. So long, therefore, as the dollar problem is with us our policy must be selective and we must satisfy ourselves that any given project will either give a net earning or saving of dollars, or will be of such substantial economic benefit to the Colonial territory concerned as to justify any possible loss of dollars involved.


Suk Tribe (Schools)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Government schools have been provided for the Suk tribe; how many children are enrolled at these schools; and what plans are there for further education facilities for the Suk people.

Detailed education statistics of this nature on a tribal basis are not kept in the Colonial Office. My right hon. Friend is, however, asking the Acting Governor for this information and will write to my hon. Friend when it is received.

Land, Kibale Area


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how much land has been taken from the West Suk in the Kibale area since 1937; and how many Masai, with their cattle, have been taken into the West Suk from the Mount Elgon area since 1937.

My right hon. Friend is asking the Acting Governor of Kenya for a report and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is received.

Royal Navy

Non-Industrial Staff


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many persons are employed on the civil side of his Department, excluding industrial operatives in naval dockyards; and how does this number compare with 1939.

The non-industrial staff employed by the Admiralty, excluding local entrants abroad, numbered 11,899 in January, 1939, and 30,801 in April, 1950. These figures are not directly comparable owing to the many transfers of staff to non-industrial status since 1939.



asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will arrange that officers and ratings proceeding on leave or travelling to take up an appointment and to whom warrants have been issued, may, at the discretion of the commanding officer, or some other specified person, be allowed to travel by the most convenient route and not necessarily by the cheapest.

No. Travelling at public expense must be economical, and, therefore, should follow the direct and cheapest route, which is usually the quickest.

Food Supplies

Overseas Parcels


asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the small number of food items now rationed, he will revise the regulations covering the sending of food parcels overseas.

Yes. I am now considering some modification of these regulations with the other Departments concerned, and I hope to make an announcement shortly.

Meat Allocations, Oldham


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that in recent meat allocations to Oldham there have been considerable proportions of excess fat to the detriment of the consumer; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent a recurrence of this.

I think my hon. Friend is referring to ewe mutton. This has formed only a small proportion of recent meat allocations to Oldham. We cannot at present remove it from the ration, but we shall continue to do all we can to distribute it as evenly as possible throughout the country.

Oils And Fats


asked the Minister of Food what profit or loss his Department made in trading in edible oils and fats in the year 1949–50.

A profit of £2,250,000 on trading in edible oils and fats as such, excluding, of course, margarine and cooking fat, which are subsidised.

Argentine Meat Shipments


asked the Minister of Food what arrangements he has made for the shipping of Argentine meat after 1st July.

No special arrangements have been made. The normal liner service between United Kingdom ports and the River Plate should be sufficient to cope with any quantities likely to be available.

Meat (Grading)

asked the Minister of Food what safeguard the general public have against being offered, as first-quality meat, meat which has been graded as suitable for manufacture only; and what methods of distinguishing these grades are employed.

Home-killed meat of manufacturing quality is stamped "M"; imported meat issued for manufacturing purposes can be identified by the invoice which accompanies it. My local officers are instructed to see that manufacturing quality meat is used for that purpose, and any trader selling it as ration meat would render himself liable either to prosecution under Article 6 of the Meat (Maximum Retail Prices) Order, 1949, as amended, or to the withdrawal of his manufacturing allowance.

Post Office

Telegraph Poles


asked the Postmaster-General what were the total purchases by his Department in 1949 of home-grown telegraph poles, imported poles and poles of other material than timber; and what determines the choice of each.

In 1949 the Post Office bought 23,400 home-grown and 188,400 imported, timber poles—first preference being given to home-grown poles of the requisite quality. In addition, there were 32,800 metal poles in completion of an order placed in 1947 when timber supplies were precarious.

Letter Deliveries, Kent


asked the Postmaster-General whether in view of the late delivery of letters at Brasted and other areas in Kent which is due to a shortage of van drivers, he would consider drafting in van drivers from other areas or running a recruiting drive.

The late delivery at Brasted was due to staffing difficulties, and has now been remedied.

Pillar Box, Osterley


asked the Postmaster-General if he will replace the pillar box, recently removed, at the comer of Bassett Gardens and Penwerris Avenue, Osterley, Middlesex, in view of the inconvenience caused to aged and infirm persons.

No. This box has been moved only a short distance to a point where it better serves the needs of the locality as a whole.

Air Mail Envelopes


asked the Postmaster-General why he has prohibited the use of air mail envelopes with coloured borders

The Post Office is medically advised that the use of envelops with multicoloured borders is undesirable as they are a potential source of eye-strain. There is also a risk of their causing delay by mis-circulation of overseas letters other than surcharged air mail and of inland letters if, as could not be prevented, the special envelopes were used for such correspondence.

Motor Mail Vans, London (Cost)


asked the Postmaster-General what has been the cost of operating motor mail vans in the London postal district since the contract for this work was terminated; and what were the financial terms of the contract.

These services were taken over by stages, the last of which was as recent as last month. The previous contracts were very complicated but on the basis of an estimated cost per mile, I have no reason to be dissatisfied at the change.



asked the Postmaster-General how many villages which had sub-postmasters prior to 1939 are now without them.

Three hundred and eighty out of some 14,000 country sub-post offices; 148 of them will be reopened as soon as suitable candidates can be obtained.

Merchant Navy (Cheap Postage Rates)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will consider introducing cheap postage rates, and particularly for air mail, for the benefit of those serving in the Merchant Navy.

No; there has been no change in circumstances since it was decided in 1947 that correspondence to and from members of the Merchant Navy abroad should be prepaid at normal civil postage rates.

Telephone Service

Instruments (Stock)


asked the Postmaster-General how many telephone instruments are held in stock by his Department for temporary use at public events; and whether he is satisfied that the stock is not in excess of maximum requirements.

The small demand for telephone instruments for public events is met from our normal stocks.

Tulse Hill


asked the Postmaster-General how many applications for telephones to be installed are outstanding in the Tulse Hill Exchange; what provision is being made for extension of the service at this exchange; and when it will be available.

Eight hundred and ninety and 103 are in process of being installed. In view of our limited resources, I cannot say when it will be possible to provide the extension of the service at a quicker rate in this mainly residential area.


Holme Moss Station


asked the Postmaster-General what will be the range from the Holme Moss broadcasting station within which there will be good reception of television.

The B.B.C. expect that, broadly speaking, the service area of this station will extend from the east coast to the west coast. To the south it will include Birkenhead, Stoke-on-Trent, Retford and Grimsby, and to the north it will include Barrow-in-Furness, Morecambe, Ripon and Bridlington. Near the boundaries of this area reception will depend on local conditions.



asked the Postmaster-General if he is satisfied with progress of work necessary to supply Scotland with television; and at what early date will Scotland have this service.

I am satisfied that work on both the television station at Kirk o'Shotts and the communicating link is being pressed on as rapidly as possible; provided no unforeseen delays occur it is hoped that this high-power station will be open by about the end of 1951.

Anglo-French Systems


asked the Postmaster-General what support he is giving to the plan to link the French and British television systems.

I am fully in sympathy with the idea of exchanging television programmes with other European countries and I have had a full discussion with representatives of the Radio Industry Council. The practical aspects of any plan will require detailed examination by all authorities concerned, and I cannot commit myself as to the outcome.



asked the Postmaster-General to state the location of the proposed Welsh television transmitter.

The proposed television transmitter to serve the Bristol Channel area will be located at St. Nicholas, Glamorgan, provided that the B.B.C. is able to acquire the site for which it is now negotiating.

Broadcast Programmes


asked the Postmaster-General if he will introduce legislation which will enable him to conclude an agreement with the British Broadcasting Corporation embodying similar provisions to those contained in Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the agreement on broadcasting from Ceylon contained in Command Paper No. 7974, which requires Governmental approval to the schedule of broadcast programmes and power to require the Corporation to refrain from broadcasting certain items.

Royal Air Force

Castle Bromwich Airfield


asked the Secretary of State for Air why authority was given for Castle Bromwich airfield to be used for the Bath and West Show, in view of the fact that this is an operational airfield used by the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; how much it will cost to put it back into service; how much of this cost is recoverable from the show; when the airfield will once more be serviceable; and what steps are being taken to ensure that those Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve members who will be short of their qualifying number of flying hours, owing to this dislocation, will still be enabled to qualify for flying bounty.

Permission was given for part of Castle Bromwich airfield to be used for the Bath and West Show because it was desired to help an undertaking important to agriculture and the airfield was regarded as the most suitable site in the area in which the show was to be held. The organisers, in addition to the payment of a fee for the use of the airfield, are responsible for restoring the land to the condition in which they took it over. Flying was suspended only for the period 20th May to 12th June during which time part of the training was carried out at a nearby R.A.F. airfield. I do not think any member of the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve will be short of the qualifying number of hours flying as a consequence of the use of the airfield for this show, but perhaps the hon. Member will send me the particulars of any individual case he may have in mind.

Disturbance Allowance


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that regular airmen posted to the United Kingdom before demobilisation are now unable to qualify for disturbance allowance; and whether he will amend the present regulations.

Disturbance allowance is intended to meet incidental expenses incurred by an officer or airman in settling his family at a new station, and consequently it is not paid, in any of the three Services, unless he is expected to stay at the new station for at least six months. My right hon. and learned Friend regrets that he is unable to amend the regulations.

Flying Operations


asked the Secretary of State for Air what progress he has made in his negotiations on the flying of fighter and jet aircraft in airway green one, with a view to reducing the risk of collision.

Investigations into this problem are making good progress, and it is hoped to make an announcement soon.

Air Training Corps (Advertising)


asked the Secretary of State for Air how much was spent by his Department in the last financial year for the purpose of advertising for air training recruits.

No expenditure was incurred by my Department on advertising for the Air Training Corps in the last financial year.

Cadets, Gloucestershire


asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the number of cadets from the Gloucestershire squadrons of the Air Training Corps that have been or will be selected for flying training by flying clubs during 1950; and which flying clubs will be used.

One cadet from an Air Training Corps unit and three cadets from the R.A.F. sections of combined Cadet Force units in Gloucestershire have so far been awarded flying scholarships, Further selections for this year remain to be made. It has not yet been decided at which club the training will be given.

Civil Aviation

Fete, London Airport


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what is the anticipated net profit or loss to be made in respect of the international sports day and fete to be held at London Airport on 15th July, 1950.

This fete is being organised by the airport and airlines staff who are accepting all financial responsibility. There will be no charge to public funds. I think this is an admirable enterprise which should be given all possible encouragement.

Services To Lisbon (Withdrawal)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what grounds were advanced by the Portuguese Government for refusing permission for both British Overseas Airways and British European Airways to run scheduled airlines to Lisbon.

The Portuguese Government represented that the aggregate capacity provided by the scheduled services of the two Corporations between London and Lisbon was increasing and was greater than was consistent with the United Kingdom-Portuguese Air Transport Agreements. In consultation with my noble Friend, the Corporations agreed that the capacity being provided by British Overseas Airways Corporation's expanding services to Central and South America via Lisbon would adequately cater for the traffic to which the United Kingdom was entitled under the Agreements and that from the point of view of British civil aviation as a whole the only course was the withdrawal of the British European Airways Corporation's services.

Renfrew Airport


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what alterations are proposed in regard to Renfrew Airport.

Plans are in hand to improve passenger facilities at this Airport. The terminal building will be enlarged and the terminal apron extended.

Scottish Islands


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he has yet decided on the most suitable type of aircraft for the Scottish Islands services.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland ((Mr. Grimond) on 17th May, 1950.

Yugoslavia (British Council)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is satisfied that the facilities of the British Council in Yugoslavia are adequate to cope with the increased and increasing demand for instruction in the English language.

The British Council are well aware of the demand and are meeting it to the limit of the funds at present available. To increase the amount of instruction, an increase in staff would be required, and this is under consideration.

German-Polish Frontier


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the policy of His Majesty's Government on the eventual frontier between Germany and Poland.

His Majesty's Government still consider that, as agreed at the Potsdam Conference, the final delimitation of the frontier between Germany and Poland should await a peace settlement.

Greek Children (Abduction)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what report has been received by the United Nations from the International Red Cross regarding their efforts to secure the repatriation of Greek children abducted by the Communist rebels.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what fresh news he has concerning the efforts of the International Red Cross to secure the return of the Greek children abducted by Communist rebels.

During its recent session the International Red Cross adopted a resolution affirming its determination to continue its efforts to bring about the return of the children to their homes. It points out, however, that the task of the Red Cross cannot be fulfilled without a greater sense of social responsibility on the part of the Governments concerned.


British Embassy, Prague (Secretary, Withdrawal)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement in connection with the Czechoslovak Government's request for the withdrawal of a secretary from His Majesty's Embassy at Prague.

Yes. As the House was informed on 19th June, His Majesty's Government take a serious view of the Czechoslovak Government's request for Mr. McLaughlin's withdrawal. They are satisfied that the Czechoslovak charges are unfounded and that they have indeed been deliberately fabricated with the object of impugning the character of His Majesty's Embassy. A Note has accordingly today been addressed in this sense to the Czechoslovak Embassy, which has been requested, as a mark of His Majesty's Government's dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Czechoslovak Government, to arrange for the withdrawal within 14 days of M. Skoumal, Special Attaché at the Embassy.

Expelled British Subjects

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British subjects have been expelled by the Government of Czechoslovakia for belonging to the Salvation Army.

Two. On 6th May last, Lieut.-Colonel Climpson, the officer in charge of the Salvation Army at Prague, and his wife were notified by the Czechoslovak authorities that they must leave Czechoslovakia within 14 days.

Trade And Commerce

Weights And Measures (Report)


asked the President of the Board of Trade when the report will be issued from the committee of inquiry set up 12 months ago on the question of the Weights and Measures Act.

The Committee of Inquiry into weights and measures legislation, which was appointed in October, 1948, has finished taking evidence and is working on its report, which it hopes to submit before the end of this year.

Footwear Repairs (Price)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the high cost of boot and shoe repairs; and what steps he proposes to take to deal with this.

I know that there have been some increases in charges for boot and shoe repairs in recent months, following rises in leather and other costs. There is evidence that competition in this trade is sufficient to ensure that the general level of charges is not unreasonably high; and I doubt whether re-imposition of the control which was removed in January, 1949, would result in lower charges.

Marked Crockery

asked the President of the Board of Trade when the permission given to British Railways to purchase crockery which has been distinguished by a mark or badge will be extended to other purchasers.

The permission referred to by the hon. Gentleman goes back to 1942. The restrictions on the supply of marked or decorated pottery for the home market can only be relaxed when it is clear that this can be done without diverting labour from production for export.

Historic Houses

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider making arrangements for His Majesty's Stationery Office to compile a list of all houses in Great Britain of outstanding historic or architectural interest which are open to the public, giving days and times of opening and charges and also the available public transport as the sale of such a pamphlet would be of value to foreign visitors as well as to people in this country.

I have been asked to reply. I do not think it is necessary for my Department to take action on this, since an attractive and informative booklet on this subject is already produced by the British Travel and Holidays Association and widely distributed by them through tourist and travel channels. In addition, a more comprehensive list is available gratis at the Tourist Information Centre in Leicester Square. I am sending a copy of each to the hon. and gallant Member.

Silicosis, South Wales

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many cases there have been of miners in South Wales who have been certified to be suffering from silicosis and were in receipt of compensation, and who, after a post-mortem examination, have been certified not to have died from the disease, and whose dependants were not entitled to compensation; and if she will give the figures for each year they are available.

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many miners were suspended from the mining industry in 1949 as a result of pneumoconiosis; and what are the figures for South Wales.

As my hon. Friend is aware, under the Industrial Injuries Act a pneumoconiosis medical board can only suspend a person from the mining industry if that person is suffering from tuberculosis, or from pneumoconiosis accompanied by tuberculosis. The number of miners so suspended during 1949 was 84, of whom 42 were in South Wales.

Fiduciary Note Issue

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement about the amount of the fiduciary note issue.

Yes. The Treasury, acting under the power conferred by Section 8 of the Currency and Banknotes Act, 1928, as subsequently amended, have authorised an increase in the amount of the fiduciary note issue by £50 million to £1,350 million as from 27th June, 1950, in anticipation of the normal increase in the demand for notes during the holiday season. The Treasury minute will be laid before Parliament.

Town And Country Planning

New Towns

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning the number of sites for new towns at present under investigation by his Department.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how many schools and hospitals are to be erected in the new towns.

These services are the statutory responsibility of the education and hospital authorities, with whom the Development Corporations keep in close touch, especially on the preparation of their master plans.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what steps he proposes to take in view of the failure of the joint committee on financial arrangements between new towns and local authorities to present an acceptable report.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what steps he proposes to take in view of the failure of the joint committee on financial arrangements between local authorities and new towns to present an acceptable report.

I would refer the hon. Members to my answer to the hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) on 28th March.

Housing (Softwood Supplies)

asked the Minister of Health how many standards of sawn softwood for housing will be required to complete this year's housing programme; and how many standards were required in each of the last four years.

The quantity of timber required for the housing programme can be calculated on the basis of approximately 1.6 standards per house. With a stabilised programme of 175,000 houses a year for England and Wales, this means approximately 280,000 standards a year. As the process of building is a continuous one and as, therefore, at a particular date houses are at varying stages of construction it is not possible to estimate how much will actually be required to complete this year's programme.

Festival Of Britain (Thames Bridge)

asked the Lord President of the Council on what Vote is being borne the cost of the bridge across the Thames being built by the Royal Engineers to connect with the Festival of Britain site.

Military personnel and other services are being provided by the Army, and so far as any extra expenditure is incurred the cost is being borne by the War Department. Apart from this the cost of the erection and removal of the bridge will be borne on the Road Fund, which is accounted for by the Ministry of Transport

British Soldiers' Graves, South Africa

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he is aware of the neglected state of the graves of British soldiers who fell in the Boer War; and if he will approach the South African Government with a view to making better arrangements for their care.

Representations have been received from certain organisations in this country suggesting that some of the graves in South Africa of soldiers who fell in the Boer War are in a neglected state. These representations are under consideration.

Cement Supplies, Malvern

asked the Minister of Works whether, in connection with the building operations at Poolbrook School, Malvern, he will take immediate steps to ensure more adequate supplies of cement being made available, since the work is now being held up owing to cement shortage, and 11 men have had to be discharged who would have been retained if cement supplies had been normal.

I understand that supplies of cement are now adequate for the work at Poolbrook School.