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Written Answers

Volume 478: debated on Thursday 26 October 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 26th October, 1950




asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made with the recruitment of police; and if he is now satisfied at the rate of recruitment.

On 30th September, 1950, the authorised establishments of police forces in England and Wales were 70,837 and the actual strengths were 61,037; so long as so many vacancies remain to be filled, the position cannot be regarded as satisfactory. Between 1st March, 1950, and 30th September, 1950, the average monthly number of recruits accepted was 554 as compared with 602 during the preceding seven months from 1st August, 1949, when the improvements in police conditions recommended by the Oaksey Committee began to exercise an appreciable effect. The average monthly net increase in strength was, however, well maintained at 230 as compared with 238 and there has been a total net increase of strength of 3,281 since 1st August, 1949. I am glad to see small but encouraging improvements in both the monthly recruiting rate and the monthly increase in strength in the Metropolitan Police Force.

Traffic Patrol Duties, West End


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why it has been the practice out of a total of 15 policemen engaged on street parking work in the West End, for one to have been engaged continuously in New Burlington Street, in view of the extreme shortness of this thoroughfare, and of the fact that it is not highly congested.

I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that while no constable is employed continuously in this street, it carries heavy traffic and traffic congestion is aggravated by vehicles parking on both sides of it. This sometimes makes it necessary for the constable employed on traffic foot patrol in this and adjoining streets to spend a great deal of time in it.

Special Constables

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the fact that the strength of the Metropolitan Special Constabulary is about 30 per cent. of establishment, he will consider raising the upper age limit for volunteers from 50 to 55 or 60 years.

Although exceptionally suitable candidates may be and have been accepted up to ages of 52 or 53, I am advised that the nature of Special Constabulary duty renders undesirable any general raising of the normal age limit of 50 for entry to the force.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the heavy demands which will be made for the Services and Civil Defence following the recent decision to expand these Services which was announced after the publication of the reports of the various committees set up to consider post-war police policy, he will consider advising chief constables to disregard whenever possible the stringent age limits recommended in these reports.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the policy of his Department with regard to the recruitment age of special constables.

The recruiting age of special constables is primarily a matter for the discretion of individual chief officers of police, but I have advised them that, since the younger men should be encouraged to join the Volunteer and Auxiliary Reserves of the Armed Forces, men under 30 should not be accepted as Special Constables. The Police Post-War Committee recommended that candidates should not be accepted if they were over 50 but I have not advised chief officers of police to adopt any rigid upper age limit and, while recruits are normally accepted up to the age of 50, it is open to chief officers of police to accept suitable candidates above that age.

Crimes Of Violence


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the current trends in crimes of violence; and to what causes does he attribute changes in expected trends.

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind robbery, rape and such offences of violence against the person as murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, wounding and indictable assaults. From the table of figures below, it will be seen

YearMurder, attempted murder, manslaughter, wounding and assaultRobberyRapeTotal
1950 (Estimaled figures for first six months)2,6205831883,391

Fire Service

Central Advisory Council (Communists)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he takes to prevent the appointment of persons with known Communist associations to the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council whose duty it is to formulate fire protection policy for the whole country.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to ensure that no known Communists form part of the Central Fire Brigades Committee; and how many known Communists are at present sitting on that Committee.

As required by Section 29 of the Fire Services Act, 1947, I appoint to this Council men and women with the requisite qualifications. Having regard to the functions of the Council as defined in that Section, I have not thought it necessary, when considering nominations from the various representative bodies, to take into account their political sympathies and associations. I understand that the present members include two known Communists.

that in the years 1947 and 1948 there were considerable increases in the total number of offences of these kinds known to the police and that, though in 1949 this trend was checked, the provisional figures for the first half of 1950 suggest that it has resumed. Many and various opinions have been expressed as to the reasons for the increase in the number of these offences but I do not think that the causes have been so clearly established as to permit a forecast of the future course of the figures to be made.

Rates Of Pay


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the recommendations of the Oaksey Report have not been made applicable to the Fire Service, which has until recently enjoyed rates of pay on the same scale as the police.

The present rates of pay of the Fire Service were determined on the recommendation of the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades in England and Wales, following an award of the Industrial Court.

Motor Vehicles, London (Thefts)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many motor cars have been stolen in the Metropolitan Police area since 1st January, 1950; and how many have not been recovered.

During the first nine months of 1950, 4,438 motor vehicles were stolen or driven away without the owner's consent in the Metropolitan Police district. 2,924 were private motor cars, 828 were goods vehicles and 686 were motor cycles. 447 of these vehicles have not been recovered—226 cars, 33 goods vehicles and 188 motor cycles.

Attendance And Detention Centres

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many attendance centres and detention centres, as provided by the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, have been made available; and what progress is being made in this matter.

Two attendance centres have been opened and a third will open shortly. Extension of the experiment must depend on experience of the actual running of these establishments. With regard to detention centres I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 20th July to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster).

Sale Of Poisons (Control)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements exist for the control of the purchase of potassium cyanide and similar poisons.

The sale of potassium cyanide and the other poisons included in the Schedule to the Poisons List Order 1950 is controlled and regulated by the Poisons Rules 1949, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member.

Taxi Fares (Meters)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the discontent among taxi-drivers, and confusion to the travelling public, owing to the fact that the taxi-meters have not yet been altered to show the increased charges imposed last June; and if he will take steps to have the necessary alteration of meters put into effect at the earliest possible date.

I am aware that taxi-drivers would like their meters adjusted to show the increased fares but I do not think that the time has come to insist on this being done. Meanwhile consideration is being given to affixing a label to the meter and the fare table drawing attention to the notice of increase of fares.

Taxis, London (Six-Mile Limit)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the inconvenience caused to travellers in London, particularly when arriving at terminal stations, by the refusal of a large number of taxi-cab drivers to carry passengers any distance beyond a five-mile limit, unless double fares or other extortionate payments are made; and if, to avoid such difficulties, he will arrange to extend the distance in which an authorised scale of charges applies.

I assume that the Question refers to the six-mile limit laid down in the London Cab Order, 1934, as the maximum distance for which a taxi-cab driver is compelled to accept a hiring in the Metropolitan Police District. The charge for any further distance is for arrangement between driver and passenger. The Commissioner of Police informs me that some drivers do demand double fares for journeys exceeding six miles and that he has received complaints from the public on the subject. The question is one which will be examined by the Working Party which I have set up to examine the law relating to hackney carriages and to make recommendations to me in the matter.

National Health Service

Tuberculosis Sanatoria (Waiting Lists)


asked the Minister of Health the average waiting time for entry to tuberculosis sanatoria.

The period varies so widely according to individual circumstances that an average figure would have no significance.

Hearing Aids


asked the Minister of Health if he is now in a position to make available evidence as to the percentage of deaf people who continue to use their Medresco hearing aids after an initial period of six months.

Public Health

Reception Area (Winchester)


asked the Minister of Health why the city of Winchester has been made a reception area for evacuees from London, in view of its close proximity to Southampton.

I have decided to transfer Winchester to the group of reception areas for evacuees from Portsmouth and Southampton.

Health Control Form No 2


asked the Minister of Health what purpose is served by Health Control Form No. 2, which requires those entering the United Kingdoms to state where they spent each of the previous 14 nights; and whether he will now withdraw this form.

I am sending the hon. Member the form now in use, which is not quite as he describes it. Without delaying the passengers it shows whether they have recently been in an infected area and enables any necessary measures to be taken. I cannot withdraw the form so long as the International Sanitary Conventions require it to be used.

Nurses' Registration Fees

asked the Minister of Health what representations he has received from members of the nursing profession regarding the fees which they are required to pay before 31st October in order to keep their names on the register; and whether he is prepared either to reduce those fees or allow them to be paid in two or more instalments.

I have had letters, either directly or through hon. Members, from about 50 nurses. The fees are prescribed by Rules of the General Nursing Council, after consulting the nurses' organisations, and the Rules have lain before both Houses. I have no power to reduce the fees or to allow them to be paid by instalments.


Stamford Battle Area (Evacuated Persons)


asked the Minister of Health what is the total number of new dwellings required to meet the needs of people evacuated from the Stamford battle area; and when can these people expect to be finally settled in their new houses.

Eighteen families have been rehoused, and a further fifty-nine new dwellings are required. These should all be completed within twelve months. I will keep my hon. Friend informed of progress in rehousing these families.

Reconditioning, Sicklesmere

asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the housing shortage at Sicklesmere, near Bury, he will authorise the Thingoe Rural District Council to sanction the owner of three cottages there to make the necessary arrangements for repairing them in order to enable the cottages to be used by people who are still without accommodation.

I am making inquiries and will communicate again with the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Dorran Aluminium Houses

asked the Minister of Health whether his Department will examine the Dorran aluminium house and issue a report on it for the guidance of local housing authorities.

Temporary Hutments, Ufford

asked the Minister of Health if he will take the necessary steps to inspect the temporary housing accommodation and wooden hutments at Ufford, Suffolk, with a view to improving the sanitation to enable the dwellers to live in more healthy conditions.

No representations have been made to me regarding defects in the sanitary arrangements at the converted hutments at Ufford Park. If the hon. Member will give specific details to the local authority they will no doubt take prompt measures to have the matter investigated.

Building Materials Supply, Sevenoaks

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the housing schemes of the Sevenoaks Rural District Council are being held up by the shortage of roofing tiles and facing bricks; and what steps he intends to take to improve the position.

I understand that roofing tiles are now available for these houses. Steps are being taken to deal with the shortage of bricks, about which I will write to the hon. Member.

Building Licences, Sheffield

asked the Minister of Health, in view of the fact that in the four and a half years up to 31st March, 1939, Sheffield built 19,661 houses, and in the five years up to 31st March, 1950, only 4,084 permanent and 2,066 temporary houses, if he is aware that there is sufficient building capacity within the City of Sheffield and roundabout it to cope with licences for 1,000 extra houses, and will he therefore now grant these licences.

As I have already informed the hon. and gallant Member, the allocations made to the local authority are the maximum numbers warranted by their building capacity but I am ready to consider further allocations to the City of Sheffield if the progress with existing commitments so justifies.

Local Government Act (Rating Areas)

asked the Minister of Health how many statements he has prepared under Section 76 (2) of the Local Government Act, 1948, for various rating areas; and how many copies in total have been printed.

I have prepared and issued a statement for each of the 1,472 rating areas in England and Wales, except for the Isles of Scilly, the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. 200,000 copies in total have been printed

Water Supplies

Marchington Woodlands

asked the Minister of Health why the Marchington Woodlands water scheme, which has been approved and passed, has not been put into execution.

I have not yet been able to approve this scheme as information required from the rural district council is still outstanding.

East Suffolk

asked the Minister of Health what schemes for extending the supply of water for domestic and agricultural purposes in east Suffolk have been sanctioned by his Department for the period 1935 to 1939 and from 1945 to 1950.

In the period 1935 to 1939 sanction was given to the borrowing by local authorities in east Suffolk, for water supply schemes, of a total of £237,804. More detailed information for this period is not readily available.

In the period 1945 to 1950. approval in principle has been given to expenditure on 65 water supply schemes in east Suffolk, totalling £948,242 (£783,470 in rural districts and £164,772 in boroughs and urban districts). Authorisation to proceed has already been given for work costing £667,587 (£514,615 in rural districts and £152,972 in boroughs and urban districts).

The authorities or water undertakers concerned, the numbers of schemes involved, and their cost, are shown below:

Authority or Water Undertaker

Number of Cost Schemes approved in 1945–50

Cost (£)

Blyth R.D.C1195,304
Deben R.D.C.9233,855
Gipping R.D.C.943,851
Hartismere R.D.C.4202,870
Lothingland R.D.C.38,790
Samford R.D.C.368,875
Wainford R.D.C.229,925
Aldeburgh B.C.1300
Bungay U.D.C.56,274
Eye B.C.14,352
Haverhill U.D.C.14,000
Ipswich C.B.11114,519
Saxmundham U.D.C.11,700
Felixstowe Water Company1333,227
Stowmarket U.D.C.1400


Retail Prices Index


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied that the cost of living index adequately reflects the normal expenditure of an average family today.

The Interim Index of Retail Prices is not an index of expenditure but is a measure, in percentage form, of the average change in the general level of retail prices of a representative selection of items bought by working-class households. The selection of the items and the weight they carry in the index are based on the average pattern of consumption in 1937–38, as indicated by the comprehensive budget inquiry carried out in that period. There are no similar statistics regarding the normal expenditure of an average working-class family today, but there is no evidence to support the view that the final index would differ materially from the figure recorded by the present index if the statistics were calculated by reference to the current pattern of spending of the average family.



asked the Minister of Labour what are the existing arrangements for ensuring that ex-officers of 50 years and over are offered employment suitable to their age, experience and qualifications.

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind ex-Regular members of His Majesty's Forces. In addition to the activities of the various voluntary organisations, the Ministry's appointments offices try to find suitable openings, and they take every opportunity to press the claims of ex-officers. A greater readiness on the part of employers to recognise the merits and qualities of the older ex-officer as a candidate for employment, and to notify suitable vacancies for which they will consider him, would, however, be of great help. It is to this end that the discussions over a wide range of employment to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) on 6th July last are continuing.

Wage Rates


asked the Minister of Labour how many workers' wages are based upon the cost-of-living index; and in how many cases have wage reductions been enforced as a result of the Treasury calculation that prices have recently fallen.

It is estimated that rather more than one and a half million workpeople are covered by collective agreements providing for the adjustment of wage rates in correspondence with movements in the Interim Index of Retail Prices. The great majority of these are in the building, civil engineering construction, iron and steel, boot and shoe, and hosiery industries.The decrease on one point in the Interim Index on Retail Prices between 18th July and 15th August resulted in reductions in the wage rates of about 350,000 workpeople employed in the iron and steel, iron mining, boot and shoe, carpet, limestone quarrying in certain districts, textile making-up and packing at Manchester and cinematograph film production industries.

London Printing Dispute (Report)

asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement regarding the dispute in the London printing trade.

The report of the Court of Inquiry into the London printing dispute was laid before both Houses of Parliament on 23rd October. I have been informed by the London Master Printers Association that they accept the Court's recommendation that negotiations should recommence immediately and are prepared to make a new Agreement on the lines suggested by the Court. I understand that the Court's report is still under consideration by the London Society of Compositors.

Unemployment, North Staffordshire

asked the Minister of Labour how many men over 55 years of age in North Staffordshire are unemployed; and what number of such men have been found work through the employment exchanges during the last 12 months.

Football Pools

asked the Minister of Labour what has been the seasonal increase in the number of those employed by football pool promoters; what percentage of these are suffering from industrial diseases or disability; how many are over the age of 60; and whether he will consider imposing a statutory obligation on football pool promoters to employ more disabled and aged persons, respectively.

The statistical information asked for by the hon. Member is not available. In general the football pool firms show no reluctance to employ disabled persons, when they are available, in excess of their statutory obligations. I have previously considered the possibility of imposing a statutory obligation on them to employ more disabled persons but I have no power to do so, nor is there any power to compel the employment of elderly workers.


Technological Training


asked the Minister of Education when he is going to implement the Report of the National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce on Technological Training.

The Report will shortly be published and I propose to allow time for comments before deciding what action is to be taken on its recommendations.

Technical State Scholarships

asked the Minister of Education whether he will institute a number of State scholarships similar to those for mature students over the age of 25 years, to be awarded to younger men and women who have secured intermediate arts, science or engineering degree by part-time study, and seek full-time university education to read for an honours course.

Technical State scholarships to the number of 120 a year are offered to students, including those of the type referred to by my hon. Friend, who have been in attendance at establishments of further education. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the notice issued by my Department announcing the terms and conditions of the scholarships.

Local Authority Grants

asked the Minister of Education to what extent local education authorities are encouraged by his Department to give financial aid towards university education to young men under the age of 25 years who, having secured an intermediate arts, science or engineering degree whilst working in factories, seek to go to the university for a full-time honours degree course.

Local education authorities have wide powers under the Education Act to give grants to enable suitably qualified students to read for degrees. I have not drawn the special attention of authorities to any particular group of candidates, since it is my policy to encourage them to help every student who has shown by his work that he ought to be enabled to undertake full-time studies for an honours degree.

Students, Welwyn (Cheap Fares)

asked the Minister of Education what representations he has made to the British Transport Commission about the suspension from 1st October of cheap evening fares from Welwyn Garden City to London, in view of the difficulty this will impose on students attending night classes in London.

None. This is a matter for the British Transport Commission, to whose attention it has already been drawn. I will, however, look into the matter and consider whether there is any action that I can appropriately take.

Trade And Commerce

Statutory Bodies


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the over-lapping of statutory bodies set up in connection with industry; and whether he will appoint a committee to inquire into the structure with a view to attaining economy of time and more efficiency.

No. But perhaps the hon. Member will let me have details of any particular case he has in mind.

Citrus Fruits (Preference)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are his proposals with regard to the maintenance of the existing rate of Imperial Preference upon citrus fruits in view of the Conference upon the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs now being held.

Under the rules of procedure adopted by the Contracting Parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade who are at present negotiating at Torquay, I am not in a position to publish or otherwise furnish the information desired by the hon. Member. On the general issue of Imperial Preference, I would refer him to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Prescott) on 27th April and, as the hon. Member will know, all questions involving individual preferences are discussed with the other Commonwealth countries concerned.

Ladies' Hats (Us Duties)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement with regard to the increase in the Import Duties on ladies' hats entering the United States of America.

The United States Government have given notice that it is proposed to withdraw as from the 1st December, 1950, the tariff concessions negotiated at Geneva in 1947 on women's fur felt hats and hat bodies valued at more than nine dollars but not more than 24 dollars per dozen. This action is being taken in accordance with the provisions of Article XIX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Details of the higher duties will be published in the Board of Trade Journal. The particular range of products affected does not represent a substantial United Kingdom export interest.

Czechoslovak Motor Cycles (Imports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many motor cycles have been imported from Czechoslovakia during 1950; how many more licences have been granted; and at what price.

Two hundred and twenty-seven motor cycles were imported from Czechoslovakia between January and September, 1950. The value of imports which may be made under import licences still outstanding is less than £3,800. The average price of recent imports is about £70 per motor cycle, c.i.f.

Development Councils

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give details of the Development Councils already set up and of proposed Councils.

Development Councils have been set up for the cotton, furniture, jewellery and silverware, and clothing industries. No decisions have been taken about the establishment of Development Councils for other industries.

Earthenware (New Zealand Tariffs)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what recent changes have been proposed in the tariffs on earthenware imported into New Zealand; what the effects will be on exports from this country; and what action is being taken to deal with them.

There have been no changes in the tariffs on earthenware imported into New Zealand. The second and third parts of the Question do not. therefore, arise.

Rayon (Australian Import Duty)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement as to the progress of his negotiations with representatives of the Government of Australia as to the rayon import duties intended to be imposed by the Dominion.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Squadron Leader Kinghorn) on 20th July, 1950.


Milling Wheats


asked the Minister of Agriculture when fixing the price of milling wheat in future, whether he will have regard to quality and pay a higher price for the better grades.

Under present conditions it is not practicable to introduce grade differentials for milling wheats into the existing marketing arrangements and the administration of the flour subsidy; my hon. Friend's suggestion will, however, be considered in connection with long-term plans for the marketing of wheat.

Animal Feedingstuffs


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is satisfied there will be sufficient animal feedingstuffs to maintain the increased number of livestock through the coming winter with or without the rationing of feedingstuffs.

It is too early yet to assess the results of this year's harvest upon home-grown supplies or to say what imports of feedingstuffs will be available in the latter half of the winter. I hope, however, that it will be possible to continue to feed our livestock.

Rabbits (Destruction)


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that there is a grave shortage of Cymag this year for the destruction of rabbits; and what steps does he propose to take to ensure an adequate increase.

I am aware of the shortage of Cymag and would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Members for Tonbridge (Mr. G. Williams) and Newbury (Mr. Hurd) on 15th June. The delay in the delivery of Cymag to retailers is now very much less than in the summer. The question of future supplies of gassing powder is under consideration.

Pig Production


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consult with the Minister of Food to ensure that the future production of bacon pigs does not exceed the potential output of the bacon factories.

I consulted with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food before the target for pig production was set under the Agricultural Expansion Programme, and there is further consultation at each annual price review. Bacon factories are well able to cope with the present output of bacon pigs, but I would remind the hon. Member that if the future production of pigs should exceed the capacity of the factories the excess could be used for pork.

Imported Foodstuffs

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will cause to be published a complete list of each and all of the official protests made to his Department since 1945, whether by letter or deputation or both, on behalf of the National Farmers' Union or other agricultural producer organisations on the subject of actual or proposed imports of foodstuffs from countries overseas.

Imports of foodstuffs are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food. My Department has received from time to time both formal and informal protests on this subject from agricultural organisations, but I do not consider that it would serve any useful purpose to publish a complete list of all those for which particulars are still available.

Forestry (Standing Timber Purchases)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the policy of the Forestry Commission with regard to buying land for planting which already has a proportion of timber growing upon it.

As change of ownership in itself does not add to the reserve of standing timber, it is the policy of the Forestry Commission to restrict purchases of standing timber. Relatively small blocks of standing timber may, however, be purchased when it is impracticable to exclude them from purchases of plantable land.

Whaling (Electric Killing Apparatus)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the apparatus for killing whales by electricity has now been given sufficient trial to permit him to decide whether steps should be taken to render its use obligatory.

No. The trials carried out during the 1949–50 Antarctic whaling season were not conclusive, but further tests will be carried out in the coming season.

National Finance

Pound (Purchasing Power)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon what basis he calculates that the purchasing power of the pound sterling has increased during the past few months from 16s. to 16s. 2d. of its 1945 value; which commodities have fallen in price; and by how much in each case.

By reference to the movement in the Interim Index of Retail Prices between May and August this year. This movement reflected the cheaper summer tariff for coal, together with certain price reductions, of which the most important averaged about 60 per cent. for cabbages, about 40 per cent. for onions, cooking apples, and cauliflowers, and nearly 10 per cent. for tomatoes.

Cortisone (Importation)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now allow the importation of cortisone for the use of the medical profession in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the written answer given on 24th October by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in reply to the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Blackburn).

Income Tax (Yield)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of revenue he now receives for each 1s. rate of tax.

On the basis of the Budget estimate for the current year, the yield for each 1s. of the standard rate of Income Tax is £154 million.

Purchase Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much Purchase Tax is charged on chemical closets; and if he will consider remitting this tax in view of the unfair burden on those residing in the country.

Chemical closets which comprise merely a sanitary bucket with lid-seat are exempt from Purchase Tax under Group 11 (k) of the Purchase Tax Schedule; other more elaborate models are charged at the rate of 33⅓ per cent. of the wholesale value under Group 11 (a). I will bear in mind the suggestion in the last part of the hon. Member's Question when we come to review the tax.

Overseas Visitors (Customs Charges)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what duty is charged on trunks used by visitors to this country from overseas which carry their personal belongings if such trunks are deemed to be of relatively recent purchase: and if he will waive this duty.

Normally Customs charges are not levied on the personal effects, including trunks, of overseas visitors to this country which are imported for their continued personal use here and for eventual re-exportation. For the purposes of this administrative concession, a visitor is generally regarded as a person making a stay of not more than six months; where that period is exceeded, different considerations may arise and payment of duty and tax may be required. I am writing to my hon. Friend about an individual case which may, I think, have given rise to his Question.

Entertainments Duty

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that certain commercially-produced plays with professional casts are exempt from Entertainments Duty, he will waive the tax on amateur operatic society productions employing a professional producer or professional help in the orchestra.

Amateur operatic societies may obtain exemption from Entertainments Duty under the same conditions as the promoters of other forms of entertainment. There is no power to waive duty where these conditions are not complied with.

Food Supplies

Pork And Bacon (Statistics)


asked the Minister of Food whether he will give the estimated figures for 1950 and 1951 for the respective percentages of the pig population to go for pork and for bacon, as compared with the years 1939, 1945 and 1949.

The figures for commercial pie marketings in Great Britain are:

YearPercentage of total pigs used for baconPercentage of total pigs used for other purposes
It is not yet possible to give a reliable estimate for the year 1951.

Hill Lambs, Scotland (Grading)

asked the Minister of Food how many hill lambs in Scotland under 24 lb. have been graded since 1st September, 1950, to the nearest convenient date.

I regret that this information is not readily available, as it would require a special analysis of the records of over half a million sheep and lambs bought in Scotland during the period mentioned.

Condemned Meat

asked the Minister of Food, in view of the fact that in 1948 £890,000 was paid for animals which were condemned after slaughter as unfit for food, and in view of the Report by the Comptroller and Auditor-General that still further losses have been incurred through the wrong classification of animals, to state the amount of these further losses and what has been done to rectify these matters.

Difficulties arise mainly on the classification of cows and heifers. The Livestock (Sales) Order was amended in July, 1949, to provide that in cases of doubt the class of female cattle can be determined after slaughter. I am satisfied that the new arrangements will substantially reduce the risk of losses from this cause.

asked the Minister of Food how many sheep carcases were included in the shipload of mutton which was due at Smithfield in September, 1949; how many carcases were condemned as unfit for human consumption; how the cargo was disposed of; and what the loss was on the transaction.

I think the hon. Member is referring to a shipment of fresh mutton from Holland in September, 1949, consisting of 2,067 carcases, of which 1,850 were condemned. The condemned meat was sold to technical fat melters and the remainder was used for manufacturing purposes. We are still negotiating with the Dutch authorities on this matter.

Rabbit Stocks

asked the Minister of Food how many of the 14 million rabbits in stock in April, 1950, have been disposed of; how many remain in stock; how they are being disposed of; how many were unfit for human consumption; and what is the loss, to date, on the transaction.

The stocks still held by the Ministry are being sold through the Association of Wholesale Distributors of imported rabbits and poultry but it would not be in the public interest to give details. Until the whole of the stocks have been cleared, I cannot say what the financial outcome will be. Sixty-one tons were condemned as unfit for human consumption between the 1st April and 24tb October. 1950.

Frozen Polish Geese

asked the Minister of Food how many frozen Polish geese were imported just before Christmas, 1949; how many sold; what was their cost price; what were they sold at; and how many still remain in stock.

During the six months ended December, 1949, 1,200 tons of frozen Polish geese were imported at a cost of between 2s. 10½d.-3s. 4½d. per lb. including duty, storage charges and distribution costs. Apart from a small quantity which were sold early this year all of these were disposed of by Christmas 1949, at the maximum controlled price of 3s. 8½d. per lb.

Dried Eggs And Egg Powders

asked the Minister of Food in view of the fact that the egg ration is now reduced to one egg a week per person, if he will issue dried eggs or egg powders for cooking purposes, especially for elderly and needy people.

I am afraid this would not be practicable. Our stocks are not packed in containers suitable for sale to domestic consumers, and are in any case only sufficient for the bakers and manufacturers who need them to receive three-quarters of their pre-war supplies.

Port Of Cardiff (Trade)

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the lack of trade at Cardiff docks; what action the Government proposes in order to remedy the situation; and whether, as a first step, he will instruct Government Departments to direct more imports to Cardiff instead of continuing to allow them to proceed to already overcrowded docks, where a quick turn-round is not possible.

I am not aware of any substantial falling off in the trade of the port of Cardiff in the last two or three years but there has been a loss of tonnage of export coal as compared with pre-war years. Some time ago my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport drew the attention of Government Departments and others concerned to the recommendation of the Working Party on the Turn-round of Shipping that shipowners and major importers and exporters should consider the possibility of saving ships' time by the greater use of ports not working to full capacity. Government Departments, however, when arranging import programmes which they control, in as far as they are able to influence the ports utilised, must have regard to the areas and the populations economically served by those ports. In order to obtain an increased share of trade for a particular port, much depends on the initiative of the local trading and shipping interests.

Fuel And Power

Consumers' Councils (Secretaries)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give a list of the secretaries of consumers' councils for coal, gas and electricity.

The Secretary of the Domestic and Industrial Coal Consumers' Councils is H. L. de Bourcier, Esq., M.B.E., Ministry of Fuel and Power, 7 Millbank, London, S.W.I.As the list of secretaries of the Gas and Electricity Consultative Councils for the various areas is a long one, I am sending a copy of it to my hon. Friend. The address of each of these councils is readily available at any of the showrooms or offices of the appropriate gas or electricity board.

Colliery Accidents (Funds)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what funds, raised at the time for the specific purpose of assistance to dependants of those killed or maimed in colliery disasters in Great Britain over the last 30 years, still remain; and, of such funds, what amounts, in each specific case, are now redundant to the needs of such dependants.

I regret that I have not yet been able to assemble the information for which the hon. Member asks. But I hope that a new edition of the Colliery Accidents Fund Return will shortly be prepared. When it is issued, I will send the hon. Member a copy and I think he will find that it supplies the answers to the questions he has raised.

Post Office

First Delivery, Highgate

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the first post in Avenue Road, Highgate, is never before 8.30 a.m. and sometimes as late as 9 o'clock: and what steps he is taking to improve the position.

The first delivery in Avenue Road, Highgate, is due to be made between 8.30 a.m. and 9.0 a.m., which is within the standard time for completion of this delivery in London. To complete the first delivery earlier would necessitate additional calls on manpower which cannot be justified in present circumstances.

Deaf Telephone Subscribers (Amplifiers)

asked the Postmaster-General how many telephone amplifiers have been supplied to deaf telephone subscribers; and what cost is incurred by the applicants in having them installed.

Statistics in the form desired are not available. Seven thousand five hundred amplifiers have been issued from central stock since 1934; no charge is made for installation, but the subscriber pays a quarterly rental of 11s. 6d.

Telephone Kiosk, Sizewell

asked the Postmaster-General if he is now prepared to instal a public telephone kiosk at Sizewell, Suffolk, in view of the fact that the beach nearby is used by a large number of people and no public service exists for emergency cases other than a small number of local residents, whose telephones may not be available when such an emergency arises.

I regret that for the reasons given in my reply to the hon. Member on 21st June, the provision of a kiosk in this case cannot be justified.


Consumers' Councils (Secretaries)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a list of the secretaries of Consumers' Councils for railways and road transport.

The information requested is as follows:Central Transport Consultative Committee and Transport Users Consultative Committee for the London Area:

Mr. G. Cole Deacon, C.B.E., 22. Palace Chambers, S.W.I.

Transport Users Consultative Committee for Scotland:

Mr. J. Reid, 23, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh.

Transport Users Consultative Committee for Wales:

Mr. W. R. Davies, c/o South Wales Area Office, The Railway Executive. Queen Street, Cardiff.

All these Committees cover both rail and road transport.

Leytonstone Station (Works)

asked the Minister of Transport what was the cost of road and bridge works at Leytonstone station; and why this work was given priority over other urgent works.

The total cost is estimated at £207,500, of which £97,500 had been spent when the war necessitated the suspension of the work. The work had to be completed to enable the electrification of the railway to be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the London and North Eastern Railway (London Transport) Act, 1936.

Trawlers (Safety Precautions)

asked the Minister of Transport how many lives of trawler workers have been lost during the last five years through improper stowage of loose coal on the decks of drifters and trawlers, and failure by trawler and drifter owners to take proper safety precautions.

Four lives have been lost from trawlers and drifters during the period in question in circumstances which suggest that the cause was the carriage of loose coal on deck.

asked the Minister of Transport if his attention has been drawn to prosecutions of fishermen who refused to sail in trawlers because loose coal was improperly and dangerously stowed on the deck of the trawlers contrary to his department's notice M.343; that, although these prosecutions were dismissed, the prosecuted fishermen were not entitled to costs or expenses and the prosecuted men were thereby put to loss and expense for which they will not be compensated; and if he will rectify this matter.

My attention has been called to the prosecution to which my hon. and learned Friend refers, but as I understand the case is likely to be the subject of an appeal to a higher Court I do not think it would be proper for me to make any comment at this stage.

British Army

Compensation Claim

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will reconsider his decision with regard to the claim for compensation made by Mr. F. H. Fryer, of Sizewell, Suffolk, in view of the discrepancy which exists between the amount claimed by Mr. Fryer and the figures submitted by his Department.

Special Campaign Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for War why the Special Campaign pension of 10s. weekly awarded to Mr. Hayhoe, aged 78 years, of 37, Francis Avenue, Ilford, formerly of the Essex Regiment, for his services in the South African campaign, has been withdrawn upon Mr. Hayhoe receiving 11s. 6d. weekly from the National Assistance Board; and whether he will take steps to ensure that Special Campaign pensions, are paid irrespective of any assistance received by the pensioners from the National Assistance Board.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. and learned Member for Hove on 25th July, 1950, of which I am sending him a copy.

Royal West African Frontier Force

asked the Secretary of State for War what changes he proposes to make in the recruitment of officers for the Royal West African Frontier Force and why it is not thought desirable, as in the case of the Gurkha Brigade, for officers to make their career in the West African regiments instead of being seconded for a short period from the British Army.

No such change is contemplated. The Royal West African Frontier Force is not a Corps of the British Army, but a force raised in the West African Colonies by and for the protection of those Colonies themselves; its function is to maintain the internal security and local defence of those Colonies and it is not normally available for service elsewhere. To appoint officers permanently to the force might well be detrimental to their health, career prospects and efficiency and also to the efficiency of the force. Similar considerations do not apply to officers serving in the Brigade of Gurkhas since the brigade is an integral part of the British Army, and the officers have the same liabilities and opportunities for service as officers appointed to other Corps of the British Army.

Ministry Of Supply

Royal Ordnance Factories (Zinc)

asked the Minister of Supply what tonnage of zinc was consumed by the Royal Ordnance factories during 1949; what tonnage during the first nine months of 1950; and what allocation per month they now receive.

The amount of zinc used by the Royal Ordnance Factories represents only a very small proportion of total supplies, but it would not be in the public interest to give details. Current supply is related to their esential needs for defence purposes.

Motor Cars (Home Allocation)

asked the Minister of Supply what percentage of motor cars built in the United Kingdom are exported; and whether he will consider increasing the allocation to the home market.

Approximately 80 per cent. of the output of cars is exported. The arrangements for the supply of cars to the home market in 1951 are at present under consideration.

Colonial Empire

Trade And Tariffs Conference

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what arrangements have been made for the views of Colonial Governments to be expressed at the Torquay Conference on Trade and Tariffs.

The Colonial Governments were consulted in advance of the Conference, and their views will be ascertained during the course of the Conference on any matters which arise which may appear to affect the interests of any of the Colonies.

Strike, Nigeria

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the cause of the recent strike of the employees of the United Africa Company in Nigeria; why were the officials of the men's union imprisoned; and what is being done to assist in building up a healthy democratic trade union in this part of Africa.

These employees came out on strike early in August in support of demands for various improvements in conditions. The demands have been referred to arbitration. I understand that 23 union members were charged with incitement to violence and other offences against public order, but' as my right hon. Friend is not at present informed of the final outcome, he is asking the Governor to telegraph the exact position. The Governor and my right hon. Friend are equally anxious to assist in the development of healthy trade unions, and with the help of the industrial relations experts who visited Nigeria this summer a full review of the situation is at present in progress.

Regent's Park (Lido)

asked the Minister of Works what decision he has reached in regard to the construction of a lido in Regent's Park.

I am anxious to make this desirable addition to the amenities of the Royal Parks as soon as possible but I am not yet able to say when funds will be available for the work.

Old Age Pensions

asked the Minister of National Insurance how the date of entry into old age pensions insurance for the purposes set out in her leaflet CP 480 is determined; and what is the statutory or other authority for such definition.

Under the Contributory Pensions Acts the date of entry into old age insurance is the same for all old age pension purposes. It is the commencing date of the period of insurance which is current when pensionable age is reached. This is based on the decisions of the independent referees appointed to decide questions under the Acts.

Germany (Martin Bormann)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further information his Department has, subsequent to that given at the Nuremberg trial, as to the fate of, or the survival of, Martin Bormann; and what steps he is taking to continue the search for him, with a view to apprehending him, so that he may undergo the sentence imposed on him at that trial.

At the Nuremberg trial evidence was offered to show that it was likely that Bormann was killed during an attempted escape from the Reich Chancellery on 1st May, 1945: no reliable information as to his fate has subsequently been received. As stated in the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) on 25th October, I have no reason to believe that Bormann is alive.