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Written Answers

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 November 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 6th November, 1950

Motor Car Industry (Zinc)


asked the Minister of Supply whether he will consider an increase in the ration of zinc to the motor car industry, in view of the fact that the present ration, on the basis of 90 per cent. of 1949 usage, takes no account of the increased productivity of the industry.

Zinc is not allocated direct to the motor car industry but to the die-casting industry, from which motor manufacturers obtain components. Output of many of the zinc-using industries has increased since 1949 and I cannot, under present circumstances, pro-

United KingdomPort of Immingham
194819491950 (January-September)194819491950 (January-September)
Foreign bunkers452,548420,307340,64516,75915,51112,099

Fuel And Power

Coal Exports (Statistics)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what were the total coal exports for 1948 and 1949 and what was the rate per annum for the first nine months of 1950; and what are the corresponding figures for coal exports from the port of Immingham.

Like the hon. Members and the electricity boards, I greatly regret the inconvenience, loss and danger which power cuts may cause. The boards endeavour, with the help of the B.B.C. and the Press, to let consumers know beforehand when they think it possible that cuts will be required. When it is definitely known that a cut must be made, there is not time to give individual warnings to all consumers; but as many large consumers as possible are warned before the cut takes place. In most areas, there is a rota system, by which a consumer knows on which day of the week his supply is likely to be cut.I have made inquiries about the suggestion made by the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse), and I regret that it is technically impossible to give a warning by reducing the voltage, or by causing lights to flicker, before a cut is made.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, in view of the big load shedding of electricity which occurred throughout the country very recently, what action he is proposing to deal with this load shedding as the weather gets colder in view of the fact that the sudden cuts or reductions cause dislocation of essential services and of trade.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a similar question by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) on 25th October.

Gas Council And Boards

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power in how many cases the chairman or deputy chairman of the various gas boards are gas engineers.

The deputy chairman of the Gas Council is a gas engineer; so are four of the chairmen and six of the deputy chairmen of the area gas boards.




asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that all dismantling of plants in the British zone of Germany has now been stopped, apart from plants where dismantling was already in operation prior to 1st October, 1950.

All dismantling operations arising from the reparation programme were begun before 1st October, 1950, and the programme does not provide for dismantling at plants hitherto untouched. The Federal Chancellor was informed in September that no further demilitarisation of buildings and installations in the British zone was considered necessary in the interests of security.

British Personnel


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that the standard of living of British occupational personnel in Germany is reduced below that of German nationals occupying positions of comparable responsibility by reason of the exchange rate fixed for the conversion of the pound sterling and the mark; and if he will make arrangements for the exchange of a limited quantity of British Armed Forces special vouchers into Deutsch-marks at a privileged rate of exchange for occupational personnel in order to remedy this hardship.

No. I have no reason to believe that British occupation personnel in Germany have a lower standard of living than that of German nationals occuping positions of comparable responsibility.


Chargé D'affaires, Peking


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he expects the Communist Government of China to reciprocate in granting full diplomatic facilities to our representatives in China.

In the absence of Chinese representation in the United Kingdom, the question of reciprocity does not arise, but His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Peking and his staff are in fact being accorded diplomatic facilities.

Diplomatic Relations


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made by His Majesty's Government in establishing diplomatic relations with the Communist Government of China; and whether they are in a position to make effective representations to that Government.

As regards the first part of the question, I have nothing to add to what I said on 1st November in the course of the Debate on the Address. As regards the second part, His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires is in a position to make representations to the Central People's Government and can therefore bring His Majesty's Government's views to that Government's attention.


Prisoners Of War (Treatment)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will seek information from the United Nations as to the representations which have been made to Mr. Syngman Rhee for the purpose of securing the more humane treatment of prisoners in Korea.

Yes. I am, however, informed that the Unified Command is already doing all in its power to curb vindictiveness in Korea. His Majesty's Government have also brought this question to the notice of the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Chinese Forces


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action is being taken by His Majesty's Government through the United Nations organisation or otherwise, in view of the fact that Chinese Communist forces are now fighting in support of the aggressors in Korea.

The hon. Member will have seen Communiqué No. 11 of the Unified Command which appeared in the Press this morning. It is understood that a further special report is being given to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to place before the Security Council. His Majesty's Government are giving their close and urgent attention to the developments in the situation, but in the meantime it would be premature for them to define their position.

Schuman Plan Negotiations


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what contribution the Government has so far made to the discussions on the Schuman Plan.

For reasons of which the hon. Member will be aware, His Majesty's Government, whilst welcoming the French initiative in this matter, did not feel able themselves to join in the Six Power discussions on the Schuman Plan that have been taking place over the past few months. For the same reason, His Majesty's Government have not considered it appropriate to intervene in Paris. His Majesty's Government have, however, followed the negotiations with close interest and have been kept fully informed of their progress. When full agreement has been reached between the Six Powers, which we hope will be in the near future, we shall be very ready, if invited to do so, to discuss with them the possibility of working out some practical form of association between the United Kingdom and the proposed High Authority for Coal and Steel. I think this attitude of His Majesty's Government is fully understood by the French and other Governments concerned.

Foreign Service Vehicles


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many cars are provided by his Department for British diplomatic representatives serving overseas; and whether he can give an assurance that these are all of British manufacture.

With regard to the first part of his question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. J. Morrison) on 18th October. As regards the second part, of the vehicles provided through the Foreign Office for the use of His Majesty's diplomatic missions abroad 84 per cent. are of British manufacture. Most of the foreign vehicles in use are light or heavy load carriers and almost all were obtained from war-time surplus stocks. As and when they become due for replacement they will be replaced by British vehicles.

Refugees (Draft Convention)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he expects that the Draft Convention on the status of refugees proposed by the Economic and Social Council will be discussed by the General Assembly of the United Nations; and what instructions have been given to the representative of His Majesty's Government as to the attitude he is to take up in the matter.

I am unable to say when this Convention will be discussed by the General Assembly. It must first come before the Third Committee which is unlikely to discuss it before the present debate on human rights is completed. It is not customary to disclose instructions given to the United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations but I can say that His Majesty's Government approves in broad terms of the draft Convention.

Spain (Diplomatic Relations)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the vote of the Special Committee of the United Nations to revoke the law on diplomatic relations with Spain, he will consider the immediate appointment of an ambassador to Spain.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement made on this subject on 1st November during the Debate on the Address.

Food Supplies

Tubercular Persons (Rations)


asked the Minister of Food what priority food rations are granted to people suffering from tuberculosis; and what alterations in such priorities have been made this year.

Three eggs a week, and a double ration of butter or margarine which at present gives an extra 4 ounces. Before June this year the weekly allowances were three eggs, an extra 3 ounces of butter or margarine, and an extra ounce each of cooking fat and bacon. When milk was controlled the priority supply was 14 pints a week.



asked the Minister of Food, in view of the improved position of our overseas trading and financial position, what plans he has to increase the purchase of sugar, and thus ease the position for ordinary homes; and what is the position regarding increased supplies from Colonial and Commonwealth sources.

We are hoping to get more sugar from Commonwealth countries next year under our undertaking to purchase all their exportable surplus, but for obvious reasons—such as the risk of crop failures—there can be no certainty of this. As for dollar sugar, very little will be on offer until the spring, and I cannot say whether we shall then be able to spare the dollars to buy it.



asked the Minister of Food what recommendations he has received on the unsuitability of the present slaughterhouse at East Dereham; and whether any steps can be taken to bring about an early improvement, or as part of a long-term programme for the handling of fat-stock produced in the district.

The local authority has prepared plans for the adaptation of another building for use as a slaughterhouse, and these are being examined.


asked the Minister of Food to state his policy with regard to slaughterhouses.

I cannot make any general statement of policy at present, since this question is necessarily bound up with that of future arrangements for livestock marketing and wholesale meat distribution, which are now under examination. In the meantime, however, as I have already said, we are encouraging local authorities to build slaughterhouses where existing facilities are seriously inadequate and where there seems to be a permanent need for additional ones.

Argentine Meat


asked the Minister of Food what is the average price of meat imported from the Argentine at the present time; and what was the corresponding figure for the same quality in 1938.

No meat is being imported from the Argentine at the present time and no price has been agreed for the year ending 30th June, 1951. For the year ended 30th June, 1950, the agreed price was £97.536 per ton free on board. I cannot give a comparable figure for 1938, because most Argentine meat was then sold in this country on a commission basis.

Christmas Bonuses


asked the Minister of Food whether he is now in a position to make an announcement regarding a Christmas sugar bonus for this year.

97 and 98.

asked the Minister of Food (1) what extra sugar he contemplates making available for Christmas;

(2) what additional seasonal food he anticipates he can make available for Christmas.

Cider Manufacture (Sugar)


asked the Minister of Food the amount of sugar allocated by his Department to cider manufacturers for this season; and how this compares with what was allocated last year.

Three thousand five hundred and twenty-five tons of sugar have been allocated for cider manufacture this season against a total of 4,775 tons made available last season.

Cattle Slaughter


asked the Minister of Food what precautions were taken to avoid unnecessary suffering to fat cattle waiting for slaughter at abattoirs during the recent period of heavy deliveries.

Every precaution is taken to see that animals are fed and watered and that they are properly looked after. The arrangements are supervised by the slaughterhouse managers and my area officers make frequent visits of inspection to see that cattle are treated humanely. If the hon. Member will let me have details of any specific case of ill treatment, I will have inquiries made. I have not, myself, received any complaint of unnecessary suffering.



asked the Minister of Food when he anticipates that bananas will be available to all sections of the community; and whether he will make a statement.

Our imports are still less than half the pre-war quantity, and as a result of extensive storm damage in some of the producing countries, the increased supplies expected are not likely to be available for some time.

Russian Crab Meat


asked the Minister of Food if he is now in a position to state the cost to his Department of transporting Russian crab meat to the United States of America and back to this country.


asked the Minister of Food to whom he has now sold the shipments of Russian crab meat which had to be returned from the United States of America in the summer; and what was the profit or loss after making full allowance for the transportation charges involved.

Potatoes (Stock-Feeding)


asked the Minister of Food how many tons of imported and home-grown potatoes, respectively, he expects to go to stock-feeding this season; and what will be the loss to his Department in each case.

I do not expect that any imported potatoes will be sold for stock-feeding. It is too early yet to estimate how many home-grown potatoes we may have for disposal or the loss which may be incurred as a result of the Government's guarantee of prices to the farmers under the Agriculture Act of 1947.



asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that there will remain a considerable surplus of homegrown onions when the open general import licence is restored on 16th November, 1950; and whether he will accordingly delay the restoration of the open general licence until such time as supply does not greatly exceed demand.

After consultation with my colleagues the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the President of the Board of Trade, it has been agreed to delay the restoration of the open general licence for onions until 1st December next. I think this arrangement should meet the legitimate claims of the growers, while at the same time safeguarding the interests of consumers and our international obligations.

Fruit And Vegetable Canning


asked the Minister of Food if he will stop selling tinplate to foreign countries for canning fruit which will then be sent back to England, to the detriment of British farmers.

The hon. Member surely cannot expect me to interfere with other countries in their use of tinplate supplied by this country under trade agreements or to prevent housewives from being able to buy tinned fruit. No tinplate is exported specifically for canning fruit purchased by my Department.


asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the fact that tinplate is exported to the Continent where peas are canned and sent to this country for sale by retailers whilst considerable quantities of home-grown peas have this year been wasted as a consequence of canneries being inadequately supplied with tinplate, he will give an assurance that in future home canneries will receive supplies of tinplate sufficient to can the home crop.

In view of our supply prospects I am afraid that I could not give this assurance.

Turkey Imports

asked the Minister of Food if he will publish a table showing, in respect of each separate source of supply, the imports of turkeys for the Christmas period 1948 and 1949, with corresponding estimates for this year.

Since 1st July, when control of poultry prices and distribution was removed, imports of turkeys have been in the hands of private trade and I cannot estimate the quantities likely to be imported in time for Christmas consumption. The quantities of turkeys imported by my Department and distributed for the Christmas periods 1948 and 1949 were as follows:

South Africa46
Southern Rhodesia24
Irish Republic3,2442,956

Storage, Leiston Aerodrome

asked the Minister of Food what is the position now with regard to food storage at Leiston aerodrome.

Since the hon. Member raised this matter on 13th March, the food storage depot at Leiston aerodrome has been regularly inspected, the last occasion being 6th October. I am glad to say that the condition of the stocks is now satisfactory.

Soap Supplies


asked the Minister of Food if he is satisfied that stocks of home-produced and imported technical tallows and melted stuffs are sufficient now that soap has been de-rationed.


Road Building


asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the need for an adequate road system for defence purposes, to what extent he is accelerating the road building programme.

In this matter due weight will be given to the requirements of defence as to other relevant considerations.

Uncompleted Road Schemes


asked the Minister of Transport what is the total amount which has been expended on uncompleted road schemes on which work has been stopped.

My information is confined to uncompleted grant-aided and trunk-road schemes, on which approximately £5 million have been spent, almost entirely in respect of schemes closed down at the outbreak of war.

Oil Pollution, Pembrokeshire Coast


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the oil pollution round the coasts of Pembrokeshire; and what is he proposing to do about it.

I have received three complaints this year of oil pollution round the Pembrokeshire coast, one of them through my hon. Friend. Much of the present pollution in this area, as elsewhere, is probably due to the dispersal or breaking up of war-time wrecks.In August last arrangements were made to notify the Master and Chief Engineer of every oil-burning and oil-carrying ship entering United Kingdom ports of their obligations under the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1922, and also of the voluntary agreement entered into by shipowners of this and a number of other countries not to discharge oil within 50 miles of any coast. Whenever adequate evidence of an offence under the Act is forthcoming, action is taken but, as my hon. Friend knows, evidence is not easy to obtain. The Admiralty, as harbour authority, successfully prosecuted an offender at Milford Haven in September.

Commission, Glasgow (Report)


asked the Minister of Transport what steps he proposes to take to expedite the Report of the Commission presided over by Sir Robert Inglis which for the last two years has been taking evidence in Glasgow.

This Committee was set up in August last year. I am informed by the British Transport Commission that its report is likely to be received early in the new year.

Motor Vehicle Duties


asked the Minister of Transport what are the estimated proceeds of the motor vehicle duties for the current financial year; and how much is intended to be spent upon the construction or maintenance of roads.

The proceeds of motor vehicle duties are now estimated at £60 million for 1950–51; payments from the Road Fund for the construction and maintenance of roads are estimated at £25,800,000.

Commission's Accounts


asked the Minister of Transport if he will direct that in future years the accounts of the Transport Commission shall show how much profit or loss, after allowing for interest and central charges, the railways and road haulage respectively, made in the year covered by the Transport Commission's latest annual Report, with comparative figures for earlier years.

No. For the reasons given in paragraph 54 of the Report of the British Transport Commission for 1949, I do not consider it would be practicable to allocate the charges in the way suggested.

Transferred Staff (Superannuation)


asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement regarding the Regulations to be issued under the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1948, affecting the superannuation position of former employees of the railway companies who have transferred to the Civil Service.

Regulations were made by the Treasury in September under the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1948, providing in certain circumstances for pensionable service to be aggregated where an employee transfers from pensionable employment with a public board to the Civil Service or vice versa. The arrangements provided for by these Regulations are, however, appropriate only where the pension scheme of the public board is broadly equivalent to that of the Civil Service. The superannuation funds of the former railway companies now vested in the British Transport Commission are not of this nature, and the Commission are therefore not included in the bodies to which the Regulations apply. I am, however, informed that the Commission are considering, and will doubtless consult me later on the steps to be taken to meet the superannuation position of staff who transfer voluntarily from their service to the Civil Service.

Passenger Road Services, West Midlands


asked the Minister of Transport if he will direct the Transport Commission to prepare, under Section 63 of the Act, a scheme for the integration of road passenger services in the West Midlands area.

No. The initiative for reviewing passenger road transport services and deciding the areas for which schemes should be prepared rests with the Commission. I see no reason for my specifying any particular area for early treatment.

Commercial Vehicles (Licences)


asked the Minister of Transport if he will consider making regulations requiring commercial road vehicles running under A, B and C licences to carry a plate indicating tinder which form of licence they are running.

Commercial vehicles running under A, B and C licences are already required to carry an identity certificate indicating the type of carriers' licence under which they are operating. I do not consider that any further identification is necessary.

King's Worthy—Alresford Road

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the road from King's Worthy to Alresford is unsafe for use by large long-distance coaches; and what action he proposes to take to remedy this state of affairs.

I have no evidence that this road is unsafe for use by large coaches.

——Number of Applications received from people wishing to go to tuberculosis sanatoria abroadNumber of Applications granted
1st March, 1948, to 28th February, 19491,2281,135
1st March, 1949, to 28th February, 19501,026986
1st March, 1950, to 31st August, 1950287283
These figures include renewal applications from people already granted currency who wish to prolong their treatment abroad.

Mining Companies, Gold Coast (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the result of the examination which his Department undertook to make into the tax position of

National Finance

Festival Of Britain (Entertainments Duty)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the admission fees to the Festival of Britain Exhibition on the South Bank and the Amusement Park at Battersea, respectively, will be subject to Entertainments Duty.

Duty will be collected on payments for admission to the Festival Pleasure Gardens, Battersea, but not on payments for admission to the South Bank Exhibition.

Foreign Currency (Tuberculosis Treatment)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many applications have been made to the Medical Advisory Committee for the release of currency in excess of the normal limit allowed by applicants wishing to go to tuberculosis sanatoria abroad for each of the years since the Board was established; and how many applications were granted.

The Exchange Control Medical Advisory Committee was set up in December, 1947. No figures are available for the period from the formation of the Committee until the end of February, 1948. The figures for subsequent periods are as follows:British gold mining companies operating in the Gold Coast.

I assume that the hon. Member refers to the question raised by the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Eccles) on the Committee stage of this year's Finance Bill Debates [OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th June, 1950, Vol. 476, c. 1012/3]. My predecessor explained in a letter to the hon. Member for Chippenham that British goldmining companies operating in the Gold Coast are not treated less favourably for United Kingdom taxation purposes than British mining companies operating elsewhere.

Trade And Commerce

Agricultural Vehicles (Tyres)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the difficulty in obtaining new tyres for certain types of agricultural vehicles in Norfolk and whether any pool or stocks are available to farmers who urgently need them.

I have not received any complaints but if my hon. Friend will be good enough to let me have details of any particular case I shall be glad to investigate it.

Fruit Packing Materials

118 and 119.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will see that sufficient paper is provided for the packing of fruit, to enable British packing to equal in quality that of imported fruit;(2) if he will see that sufficient wood, fibreboard, cardboard or equally satisfactory substitute be made available to British horticulturists, to enable them to pack fruit as well as the foreigners whose fruit is now being imported into this Country.

My right hon. Friend is in touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on the question of packaging for fruit and other horticultural products. There is, however, a shortage of all packaging materials required for this purpose and there are certain essential requirements, such as those for defence and dollar exports, to which the highest priority must be given in distributing available supplies. In view of uncertainties about the future supply position, I am afraid it is not possible to give assurances as definite as the hon. Member seeks.

Potato Marketing Board


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make a statement of his intentions regarding the re-establishment of the Potato Marketing Board.

My right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, are prepared to consider any proposals which the appropriate organisations of producers might wish to put forward for the re-establishment of the Potato Marketing Board with functions appropriate to present-day requirements.

Ministry Of Works

Building Licences (Clubs)


asked the Minister of Works whether he can give a list of clubs in respect of which in the last two years licences totalling £8,000 or more have been issued for their erection, extension or other improvement, stating their party political affiliations, the value of the licences in each case, and the approximate value of any further licences that may be necessary to complete the works.

I find there are no statistics readily available of such cases and their extraction would involve an altogether disproportionate amount of time on the part of my staff. In any case my licensing officers are not concerned to ask whether a club for which a licence is sought has any party political affiliation.

asked the Minister of Works how many licences, and for what total amounts, he has granted or refused to Conservative, Liberal and Labour clubs, respectively, showing separately those for the erection of new premises and those for the extension of old premises, in England and Wales.

I regret that the information is not available and could not be provided without an unjustifiable diversion of staff from their normal duties. I am not concerned with the political colours of the clubs applying for licences.

Castle, Eye

asked the Minister of Works if, in view of its precarious and dangerous condition he is prepared to take over the responsibility for repair and maintenance of the ruins of the ancient Norman castle of Eye, in order to preserve this historical castle for the nation.

I do not consider that the remains of the castle at Eye are sufficiently important for my Ministry to take over guardianship.

Westminster Hall (Lighting)

asked the Minister of Works if he will change the lighting in Westminster Hall so that the light is cast upwards to show the beauty of the roof to full effect.

The existing system can be used to floodlight the roof adequately. Each of the lighting clusters contains a floodlight which can be operated independently but which is not always in use.

Vivisection (Cancer Research)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue a table showing the number of licences and certificates refused for the purpose of experiments on animals for cancer research in each of the last 10 years; and the reasons in each case for that refusal.

Telephone Service (Rural Kiosks)

asked the Postmaster-General how many villages in the Driffield, Bridlington and Holderness rural districts have been provided with telephone kiosks in the last 12 months.

National Insurance (Industrial Injuries)

asked the Minister of National Insurance (1) whether she will now increase the unemployability allowance of injured workers from 20s. to 30s.. as is paid to war pensioners;(2) whether she is aware of the hardship that results in cases where a workman after industrial injury or disease is assessed at less than 20 per cent., not likely to be permanent, and that many such workmen still have loss of working capacity, and, when suffering from dermatitis or rupture, are unable to perform their pre-accident work; and if she will take steps to remedy this.

I am discussing these and other aspects of the Industrial Injuries Acts with the Trades Union Congress General Council and cannot at present make any statement.

Disabled Persons (Motor Tricycles)

asked the Minister of Pensions what is the number of persons waiting for motor-propelled tricycles in Wales and Cardiff, respectively.

Nigeria (New Constitution)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make about the progress of the constitutional review in Nigeria.

It will be remembered that in my published dispatch of 15th July to the Governor (copies of which have already been placed in the Library of the House) I stated that, provided that a satisfactory settlement could be arrived at on the composition of the Nigerian Legislature and subject to further examination of details when the constitutional review was completed in Nigeria, His Majesty's Government would be willing to accept the recommendations on which agreement had been reached in Nigeria.I am glad to say that at the September meeting of the Legislative Council agreement was reached on the composition of the Central Legislature. The Council has recommended that in present circumstances it would be preferable to have one House rather than two in the Central Legislature, and that in view of the respective populations of the Regions, the representation of the Northern Region in the Central Legislature should be equal to the representation of the other two Regions together.His Majesty's Government accept these recommendations, and welcome the agreement which has been reached in Nigeria as a good augury for the harmonious working of the new constitution. The position now is that the points of detail to which I

eferred in my dispatch are being examined with a view to the preparation of constitutional instruments. It is the intention to bring the new Constitution into operation by the middle of 1951.