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Written Answers

Volume 477: debated on Wednesday 19 July 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 19th July, 1950

Royal Air Force

Flying Scholarship Schemes

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has yet found a means by which people trained under air training scholarships can complete enough flying-hours to qualify for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

It has been decided in principle that young men who have gained private pilot licences under the flying scholarships schemes may be accepted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve to continue flying training at Reserve Flying Schools. The detailed arrangements are now being worked out.

Airborne Forces (Training)

asked the Secretary of State for Air how he will carry out his commitments to the airborne forces now that orders for the Hastings transport plane have been greatly reduced.

A substantial part of the order for Hastings aircraft is being retained and provision continues to be made in Transport Command for the training of airborne forces, though on a somewhat reduced scale.

Civil Aviation

Flying-Boat Services, Southampton—South Africa

23.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what applications he has received by charter companies for permission to operate flying-boat services between Southampton and South Africa.

Services, Malta

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what applications have been received from charter companies for licences to operate scheduled services between Malta and Bermuda and Malta and Lydda; and what decisions his Department has reached.

One company registered in Malta has applied to operate scheduled services on each of these routes. As regards the route between Malta and Bermuda the Governor of Malta has been informed that His Majesty's Government would have no objection to the company operating a scheduled service between Malta and Lisbon where a connection can be made with the British Overseas Airways Corporation's service between Lisbon and Bermuda. A service between Malta and Lydda would require the consent of the Government of Israel and the Governor of Malta has been informed that His Majesty's Government could not approach that Government until they are satisfied that there is prospect of sufficient traffic between Malta and Lydda to justify a scheduled service.

Armed Forces (Use In Strikes)

48.

asked the Minister of Defence if he will consider paying the Service personnel, who are employed during strikes, the pay which would have been drawn by the strikers.

No. The Forces must always be prepared to perform work of national importance as a military duty, and when doing this they are remunerated at Service rates of pay.

Food Supplies

Banana Imports

54.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that substantial shipments of bananas are being offered to British merchants through the enterprise of French exporters at a price equivalent to less than 5d. per pound f.o.b. West Indian Port; and if he will permit bananas so offered to be imported privately.

I know that these offers have been made, but the price asked is much higher than that which we pay under bulk purchase contracts from the West Indies; and I could not maintain the controlled distribution and price control which are still necessary as long as bananas are scarce if I allowed these imports on private account.

Meat (Marketing, London)

asked the Minister of Food if he will give an assurance that he will not make any alteration in the arrangement for the central marketing of meat in London without prior consultation with representatives of the trade.

Condemned Mutton, Islington

56.

asked the Minister of Food if he has now received a report on the large quantity of sheep slaughtered at the Metropolitan Cattle Market, Islington, which had to be condemned on 3rd June.

Yes. After a careful study of this report, I am satisfied that the loss was due to circumstances that could not have been foreseen and that, in slaughtering these sheep on Saturday, 3rd June, without having refrigerated space available to hold them, my officers were only taking risks that were frequently taken by private traders before the war. I am also satisfied that when the temperature jumped unexpectedly from 63° to over 80°, with an increase in humidity, my officers took every possible step to minimise the loss.

Meat Pies (Manufacture)

57.

asked the Minister of Food if he will now issue additional licences for purchase of meat to retailers who wish to manufacture meat pies where consumer demand is proved.

Milk Delivery, London

58.

asked the Minister of Food what were his reasons for rescinding the order prohibiting the delivery of milk in the Metropolitan area before 7.30 a.m.

This was a wartime order and the ending of consumer registrations for milk removed the last reason for retaining it.

West Africa

Development Schemes, Gambia

59.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what housing and educational facilities have been provided for Africans working on the Colonial Development Corporation schemes in the Gambia.

:The Corporation plans to build 250 houses for African employees on the rice scheme; but no housing problem arises in connection with the poultry scheme since the workers live in their own villages. The educational facilities are those provided by the local education authorities or missions, and both schemes afford valuable vocational training.

Sierra Leone (Constitution)

71.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to end the deadlock in constitutional reform in Sierra Leone; and, in view of the Governor's statement that he may be compelled to implement the earlier Stevenson proposals, whether this is likely to be implemented soon.

Dispatches exchanged between the Governor and myself on this subject were published on 15th July, and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. These dispatches set out fully the reasons why the Governor has recommended, and I have agreed, that the 1948 proposals, with certain modifications, should now be implemented. It is intended that the new Constitution should come into force early next year.

West Indies

Trinidad (Civil Servants)

61.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what restrictions are placed on civil servants in Trinidad with regard to political activity.

Civil servants in Trinidad are prohibited from identifying themselves publicly with any political candidate or party or from taking any active part in such political activities as canvassing or speaking on political platforms. Further, no person who holds an office of emolument under the Crown may be an elected or a nominated member of Legislative Council.

British Honduras (Development Plan)

66.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the announcement made by the Governor of British Honduras early in March that the setting up of a local development corporation was part of His Majesty's Government's policy for developing the Colony represents the present policy of the Government.

The Governor's announcement referred to a proposal for a local development corporation that he proposed to include in the long-term development plan for the Colony. This plan is still under consideration locally, and it would be premature for me to express any views on specific proposals contained in it.

British Guiana (Forestry)

73.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the number of officers upon the senior staff of the Forest Department, British Guiana.

One conservator, one senior assistant and three assistant conservators. It is hoped to appoint three more assistant conservators this year.

74.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the export of timber ordinance, British Guiana, was last reviewed; and what action was taken in consequence.

I am consulting the Governor and will write to the hon. Member as soon as I have his reply.

75.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is proposed to permit any clear-felling of the forest in the Bartica Triangle, British Guiana; and whether he is satisfied that the forest policy in this area will permit the natural regeneration of green-heart.

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative, and to the second part in the affirmative.

Antigua (Trade Union)

76.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has yet received a report from the Governor of the Leeward Islands on the number of members of the Antigua Trade Union among the strikers at Mill Reef Properties.

Yes. The Acting Governor informs me that the Union contends that 75 per cent. of the 325 workers at Mill Reef were members of the Union, while the contractor claims: that less than 50 per cent. were members. The Acting Governor adds that he has been unable to verify either claim. I regret that the reply given on 28th June was based on insufficient data. I have asked the Acting Governor to inform the Union of my regrets.

Constitutional Reform, Leeward Islands

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding constitutional reform in the Leeward Islands.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about constitutional reforms in the Leeward Islands.

It will be recalled that my predecessor announced last year that he had approved certain changes in the constitution of the Leeward Islands involving the extension of the suffrage, the abolition of property and income qualifications for candidates for election to the Presidential Legislative Councils, and the introduction of the committee system. On his arrival in London the Governor of the Leeward Islands had a discussion at the Colonial Office on various other aspects of constitutional reform in that Colony. Owing to the brief time which has elapsed since that discussion, and because the lives of the Presidential Legislative Councils of Antigua and Montserrat end on 31st July, it will not be possible for me fully to examine and reach a decision on the points discussed before the lives of those Councils end. In the circumstances, and so as to enable these matters to be given the fullest consideration, I have proposed that the lives of the three Presidential Councils of Antigua, St. Kitts-Nevis, and Montserrat should be extended until 31st October, 1951. I confidently anticipate, however, that it will be possible to make a decision on the points involved well in advance of the new date of expiration of the lives of the Councils.

Colonial Empire

African Graduates, British Universities

63.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are taken to ensure that suitable employment is provided, on their return home, for African students who have graduated from British universities.

Most scholarship holders are designated for specific posts or careers which await them on completion of their studies. There is great scope for trained men and women and all the colonial Governments in Africa have plans for making the fullest use of students who have graduated in British universities. I send full information about the students to their Governments so as to assist them in making these plans.

Students' Hostels

67.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many colonial students now at the Balmoral hostel will be transferred to the new hostel in Hans Crescent; how many colonial students are now accommodated in hostels; how many hostels have been recently closed; how many students have applied for accommodation to the Colonial Welfare Department or the British Council; and what further attention has been given to this need of accommodation and for providing recreational facilities for those not in hostels.

The number of colonial students now at the Balmoral hostel who will transfer to Hans Crescent House has not yet been decided. Two hundred and fifteen colonial students are now accommodated in hostels in London. One hostel has been recently closed. Six hundred and fifty students have applied to the British Council for accommodation in London. The British Council plans to have 3,000 individual homes available for overseas students in the Greater London area by September. 1950. Recreational facilities for students not in hostels are already available at British Council Headquarters and they will also be available at Hans Crescent House in London when it is opened in the autumn.

Colonial Development Corporation (Report)

72.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is expected that the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation will be published.

It is expected that the Report will be published on Friday, 21st July.

Malaya And Singapore

Administrative Officers (Training)

64.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Asian and how many European administrative officers have been selected by the Singapore and Federation Government for training in administrative work in the United Kingdom.

Since the resumption of training courses after the war 10 Asian and 19 European administrative officers from the Federation of Malaya and Singapore have been selected for the usual study leave courses for serving officers. Eighteen European officers have attended specialist courses bearing on their administrative duties.

Rice Deliveries

65.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied that deliveries of rice from Burma will be sufficient to maintain the present ration in Malaya.

While deliveries of rice from Burma alone are not sufficient to meet the ration in Malaya, the deliveries already made from Burma plus the supplies being delivered from Siam will, together with stocks on hand and the local crop, be sufficient to maintain the present ration.

Rural Development

68.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a further statement on the new Rural and Industrial Development Authority in Malaya; what particular work it is to undertake; and if this work is restricted to rural development for Malays in view of the fact that the representatives nominated by the Government are all Malays.

As regards the first two parts of the question I cannot add to the statement issued by the Federation Government on 9th July, the text of which will be reproduced in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Authority will be concerned primarily with the Malay community, who form the large majority of the rural population but it will not be restricted to them, and its proposed membership includes European Chinese and Indian members.

Following is the text of the statement:

In connection with its plan for economic development in rural areas, the Government of the Federation has decided to set up a Rural and Industrial Development Authority. The general purpose of the Authority will be to assist the primary producer to develop a sound economy and to give him a larger share in development of industry based upon his primary product.

The first task of the Authority is to consider the order of priority of various schemes to be laid before it, the agency to be employed and financial resources that it will require. For this purpose the Authority has been constituted on an interim basis. It is intended that in due course, subject to the approval of the Legislative Council, the Authority should have its own finance, possibly becoming a statutory corporation.

The members of the Authority will be the Hon. Dato Onn bin Jaafar, D.K., D.P.M.J. (Chairman), the Financial Secretary or his representative, the Economic Secretary or his representative, the Heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Co-operative Development and Drainage and Irrigation, 11 Malay members nominated for State and Settlement Governments, and representatives whom Chamber of Commerce, the Banks and Colonial Development Corporation have been invited to nominate. The Authority will begin its work in September.

The Government hopes through this machinery to give drive, backing and coordination to, rural development schemes, with accompanying industrial opportunities, throughout the Federation. The Draft Six Year Development Plan which will be largely supplemented by these schemes is to be debated in the Legislative Council on 26th July.

Northern Rhodesia (Broadcasting)

70.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to stop the Northern Rhodesian Government Information Department being used for the broadcasting of propaganda.

None. The programme of the Northern Rhodesian Broadcasting Station, which is under the control of the Information Department, include news, educational talks and features on hygiene, soil erosion and other subjects of importance to the African peoples to whom those broadcasts are addressed. Educational propaganda on such subjects is very necessary.

Post Office

Printed Paper Rate

80.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will amend the regulations governing the inland printed paper rate so as to make moves in a game of chess conducted by post eligible for this rate.

No, I cannot single out moves in a game of chess for this concession.

Correspondence (Customs Examination)

85.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will discontinue the practice of opening personal correspondence sent by residents in this country to British subjects abroad.

Under the provisions of the Foreign Postal Packets (Customs) Warrant, 1948 (Statutory Instrument 1948, No. 562), officers of the Post Office must open such correspondence for examination by the Customs authorities if required to do so by the proper officer of the Customs and Excise. I have no power to refuse such requests.

Foreign Postage Rates

88.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will specify the Instrument imposing the international obligation to increase foreign postal rates by 1d.; when this obligation arose; and whether it arose as a consequence wholly or partly of the devaluation of the pound.

The Universal Postal Convention prescribes in gold centimes upper and lower limits for postage rates in the International Letter Service. Devaluation of sterling rendered present foreign postage rates less than the minima prescribed under the Convention.

Braille Books (Postage Rates)

89.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he intends to continue without any increase the special rates of parcel postage for braille books and talking books for the blind.

Overseas Forces (Postage Rates)

90.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will exempt from the increased charges for parcels and foreign letters all parcels and mail addressed to members of His Majesty's Forces serving overseas.

The increases in postage rates to which I referred in my statement of the 12th of July do not apply to correspondence for His Majesty's Forces overseas.

Drawings And Negatives (Damage)

91.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that serious damage is frequently done to drawings and negatives sent through the post, even when in metal cases; and if he will issue instructions that more care must be exercised in future in dealing with parcels.

I am not aware that serious damage is frequently caused to properly packed drawings and negatives sent by post, but I will gladly make full inquiry if the hon. Member will let me have details. Standing instructions provide that parcels shall be handled carefully.

Aircraft (Mail Carriage)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will consider simplifying the form which must be signed by captains of aircraft coming into the United Kingdom which certifies that the aircraft is not carrying mail.

Arrangements have been made to dispense with the form when no mail or postal packets are carried.

Telephone Service

Kiosks

82.

asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for altering the system in public telephone booths on manually operated exchanges, whereby operators cannot answer the caller until two pennies have been inserted in the coin box.

One-fifth of all public telephones operate on this system. In emergency, the special attention of the operator is obtained by using the emergency press button. A change of system would be too costly in labour and materials.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a substantial increase in the next allocation of public telephone kiosks to Dorset, having regard to the fact that this year's allocation is two and a half times less than the allocation to Devon.

No. The allocations, which have been agreed with the Rural District Councils Association, take account of population, size of rural areas and the numbers of existing public telephones. Judged on those considerations, they seem to me reasonable.

Exchange, Barnet

86.

asked the Postmaster-General when he expects the new Barnet telephone exchange to be completed.

Mr.

In view of our limited capital resources, I cannot say when the new exchange at Barnet, which serves a mainly residential area, is likely to be ready for service.

87.

asked the Postmaster-General how many new subscribers he expects to install on the Barnet telephone exchange in the six months beginning 1st July, 1950.

Applications, Bristol

asked the Postmaster-General how many people in Bristol are now on the waiting list for telephones; how many were supplied in the last year; and what are the prospects of catching up on arrears.

There are 6,978 outstanding applications, including 698 in course of provision. Two thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five were met during the year ended 30th June, 1950. Substantial additions will be made to the exchange equipment and the local cable network this year, but I cannot say when all arrears will be met.

Subscribers (Change Of Address)

asked the Postmaster-General what is the number of telephone subscribers during each of the last six months who have requested the removal of telephone facilities from one address to another, in each of which addresses there are existing lines, and whose requests have not immediately been met.

The information is not available and would involve great labour to obtain. If the hon. Member has any particular case of difficulty in mind, I shall be glad to make inquiry.

Television

Stations (Coverage)

83.

asked the Postmaster-General which areas of the country remain to be covered for television after the erection of the transmitter at Cardiff.

The areas planned to be covered by the low-power transmitters located at Tyneside, Southampton, Northern Ireland, Aberdeen and Plymouth. It is impossible to say which other areas will be left uncovered until some experience has been gained of the operation of the five high-power and the five low-power stations.

Station, Central Scotland

asked the Postmaster-General what progress is being made with the erection of the proposed television station for Central Scotland and when it is likely to function.

Preparatory work has already started on the site, and the equipment is being manufactured. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) on 28th June.

Broadcasting

Bbc (Publication)

84.

asked the Postmaster-General why the British Broadcasting Corporation publication, "London Calling," containing foreign broadcasts, cannot be ordered by any person resident in the United Kingdom.

The publication "London Calling" gives particulars of the B.B.C. short-wave programmes addressed to English-speaking audiences abroad, both in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. I understand that distribution is confined to overseas subscribers as these programmes are not normally heard by listeners in this country.

Vehicles (Interference Suppressors)

asked the Postmaster-General whether all vehicles in the service of the General Post Office are now fitted with suppressors to avoid interference with radio and television; and what steps he is taking to bring the advisability of suppression to the notice of other Government Departments.

All Post Office vehicles have been fitted with wireless interference suppressors. I am pursuing the matter with other Government Departments and I understand that most of them have already arranged for their vehicles to be suitably equipped.

Territorial Army (Naafi)

92.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consult with the Board of Management of Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes with a view to obtaining support from the profits of the Board for welfare in the Territorial Army as well as the usual extra rebate to benevolent trusts and service welfare funds.

Where N.A.A.F.I. operate in Territorial Army camps, or institutes are conducted for the Territorial Army, the normal rebate is paid to the Territorial Army unit concerned. The allocation of the Army's share of the money which the Board of Management place at the disposal of the Services as a result of N.A.A.F.I.' s trading activities, is decided by the Army Council. The suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member will he borne in mind.

National Finance

Colonies (Gold And Dollar Balance)

93.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the sales to dollar and hard currency countries from Colonial Territories in the last quarter.

I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. and learned Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) yesterday.

Dollar Exports (Colonies)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give details of the exports for the last six months from each Colonial Territory to the United States of America and Canada, giving the quantity and value of goods exported and similar figures for the previous six months.

I would refer the hon. Member to the various Trade Returns which are published by the Governments concerned.

Fighter-Bomber Aircraft

94.

asked the Minister of Supply what types of piston-engined fighter-bomber aircraft suitable for Army co-operation are at present in production.

Town Planning Proposals

asked the Minister of I own and Country Planning, in connection with the value of the capital investment permitted during 1950–51 in certain of the major war-damaged cities. what is the estimated cost of putting into effect the town planning proposals in each of the 10 largest cities of the United Kingdom.

Burnham Committee (Representation)

asked the Minister of Education the number and the names of teachers' associations who have sought representation on behalf of their members on the Burnham Committee.

Since 1944 when the Burnham Main Committee was reconstituted to meet present-day conditions, I have received representations by or on behalf of three associations of teachers—namely, the National Association of Head Teachers, the National Union of Women Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters that they should be represented on the Committee.

Palace Of Westminster (Admission Queues)

asked the Minister of Works whether shelter from the rain can be provided for people who queue outside the Palace of Westminster waiting for admission to the debates of this House.

The authorities of the House do all they can to give shelter to people waiting for admission. Westminster Hall is normally used for this purpose but at the present time, owing to the building work at the St. Stephen's end, there is congestion and the use of the Hall for shelter has occasionally to be suspended. It would be difficult to erect a special shelter in the vicinity of the Palace without interfering with the amenities and without causing obstruction to the public.

White Fish Industry (Subsidy Scheme)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can indicate the terms and conditions governing the payment of the subsidy to white fish catchers.

Yes. I have arranged for copies of the scheme to be available in the Vote Office for hon. Members who are interested.

National Health Service

Tuberculosis Sanatoria, Wales (Waiting Lists)

asked the Minister of Health how many tubercular patients in Wales, Glamorgan and Cardiff, respectively, are awaiting admission into sanatoria.

The following are the figures: Wales 1,190, Glamorgan (excluding Cardiff) 536, Cardiff 111.

Mental Defectives, Newcastle Region

asked the Minister of Health how many new cases have been admitted to institutions for mental defectives under the control of the Newcastle Regional Hospital Board since 1st January, 1949; and how many of these places have been allocated to patients residing within the County Borough of West Hartlepool.

Since the 1st January, 1949, 307 new cases have been admitted to institutions for mental defectives under the control of the Newcastle Regional Hospital Board. Of these, seven were patients residing in the County Borough of West Hartlepool.

Royal Navy

Military Targets, Korea (Air Attacks)

77.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the bombing attack carried out on Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, by dive bombers and rocket-firing fighters from a combined American-British aircraft carrier fleet.

Air strikes against military targets in the vicinity of Pyongyang were carried out by American aircraft from a combined British-American Carrier Task Force on 3rd and 4th July. No British aircraft took part.

Explosion, Portsmouth Harbour

78.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a statement on the explosion in the ammunition barges in Portsmouth Harbour.

79.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he can now make a statement on the recent explosion at the Naval Ordnance Depot at Bedenham, near Gosport, Hampshire.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement which I made at the end of Questions today.