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Written Answers

Volume 480: debated on Wednesday 8 November 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 8th November, 1950

Foreign Ships (British Flag)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what steps he is taking to prevent the misuse of the British flag in the Mediterranean by small craft not under British ownership.

The ships of the Mediterranean Fleet take all possible action as a matter of routine. As their standing instructions are being revised, I will ensure that this point is adequately covered.

Telephone Service

Kiosks, Rural Areas


asked the Postmaster-General how many telephone kiosks have been erected in the rural areas of Denbighshire during the last 12 months; and when kiosks will be provided at the Green and in the Hiraethog district.

Sixteen. Owing to the severe limitation of our resources in labour and materials, I regret that I cannot at present say when it will be possible to install kiosks at the two places mentioned.

asked the Postmaster-General when it is anticipated that a public telephone kiosk will be provided at Little Bristol, Charfield, Gloucestershire.

If the Gloucestershire Rural District Councils Association include this kiosk in their next quota it will be installed.

Answering Service


asked the Postmaster-General when he intends to introduce a telephone answering service and thus provide a facility which obtains in most foreign countries and which, by taking messages of subscribers, economises manpower and promotes efficiency.

In view of the limitation of our resources in manpower and capital expenditure. I regret that I cannot consider the provision of such a service by the Post Office at the present time.

Government Departments


asked the Postmaster-General when it is proposed to reintroduce the pre-war system of charging Government Departments with the cost of their telephone calls.

I am considering this question in connection with the recommendation in the Fourth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates. Meanwhile, it has been decided by the Treasury that the Estimates for 1951–52 should be prepared on the present basis.

Applications, Oldham

asked the Postmaster-General how many applications for telephones are still outstanding in the county borough of Oldham.

One thousand five hundred and eighty-seven on 30th September, 1950.


asked the Postmaster-General the total number of telephone supervisors in the United Kingdom who have been promoted to substantive rank; and how many of these are women.

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind promotions made as a result of the recent revision of supervising standards. This revision has so far resulted in the promotion of 690 supervising telephonists, including 180 women.

Mail, Malaya


asked the Postmaster-General why letters for Christmas delivery in Malaya have to be posted six weeks beforehand; and when he hopes to get the service back to pre-war standards.

The hon. Member refers to letters sent by sea. The latest date for posting by air-mail is 12th December.

Royal Air Force (Equipment Sale)


asked the Secretary of State for Air the reason why large quantities of Royal Air Force clothing and equipment were sold by the Ministry of Supply on 10th October at Handforth, Cheshire.

This equipment was sold because it was of no further Service use. Ninety per cent. was unserviceable, for example, out of date electrically heated clothing with defective wiring, and blankets that were not worth cleaning. The rest was equipment of obsolete patterns. All the items were carefully inspected before sale by senior equipment officers of the Royal Air Force and a representative of the Air Ministry.

Civil Aviation

Air Accident, Llandow (Report)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Tudor air disaster of March of this year will be published.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) on 18th October, 1950. The case is still sub judice and the report therefore cannot yet be published.

Southend Airport


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he will investigate the possibilities of using the Southend Airport as a diversionary airport.

Southend Airport, like all operational aerodromes in the United Kingdom, is available to suitable aircraft for landings in emergency. The cost involved in equipping and manning the airport for occasional diversions of aircraft on international scheduled services could not be justified.

Service, London Manchester


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Civil Aviation if he will withhold permission for the cessation of the private air service between London and Manchester until he is satis- fied that British European Airways Corporation have instituted an adequate service to replace it.

No. My noble Friend has no power to compel a company to continue services which it operates under an associate agreement with British European Airways Corporation, at its own financial risk.

Food Supplies

Butchers' Profits


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that the Heckmondwike Co-operative Society's butchering department made a profit of only £45 on a turn-over of £52,759; and, in view of this, if he will consider making alterations regarding the price list, surcharge and profit margins allowed to members of the trade.

Retail butchers' profits are regulated by a system of surcharges and rebates on the wholesale price list which is designed to give the trade as a whole a reasonable return. I am afraid that it is quite impracticable to base our calculations on the trading results of any single firm.

Meat Ration


asked the Minister of Food what steps are being taken to prevent a substantial reduction in the meat ration in the New Year.

We are buying all the meat that we can get at a reasonable price and we have done our best to accumulate stocks of meat during the past few months while home production has been at its peak; but I am not going to speculate about the level of the ration next year.

Sweets And Chocolates (Retail Licences)


asked the Minister of Food if he is now prepared to abolish licences required by retailers to sell sweets and chocolates, having regard to the fact that restrictions of this type have been removed in the case of all other commodities except meat.

We are unable to remove this restriction at present but it will be relaxed as soon as conditions permit.

Bacon Factories


asked the Minister of Food what is the maximum weekly capacity of bacon factories, existing and projected.

The existing maximum weekly capacity of bacon factories in the United Kingdom is about 90,000 cwts. No new factories are proposed but bacon curers hope to be able to increase existing capacity by improvements in existing plants.

Rural Dairymen (Delivery Charge)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the hardship caused to rural dairymen by the decrease in their retail margin which became effective on 1st September; and what steps he proposes to take to improve their position.

My right hon. Friend recently discussed this problem with representatives of the dairymen and agreed that a small number of dairymen operating in thinly-populated areas may be in difficulties. This does not justify a general increase in the margin, but my right hon. Friend has informed dairymen that there is nothing in the present Control and Maximum Prices Order to prohibit a reasonable delivery charge in such cases.

Vegetable Imports


asked the Minister of Food what he has decided to do to assist Kentish farmers and smallholders whose crops of cauliflowers and lettuces are now being crowded out of the market by imported vegetables.

The arrangements for controlling imports of cauliflower, lettuce and other vegetable, which have been agreed with the Agricultural Departments after consultation with the growers' organisations, are especially designed to give growers ample opportunity to market their produce during the main season of home production.

Sweets And Sugar


asked the Minister of Food why it cannot be arranged that a proportion of the sweets ration may be valid either for sweets or the equivalent weight in sugar.

Complicated administrative arrangements and more sugar would be needed, and I am afraid that no such scheme would be practicable at present.

Sugar Beet Factories

asked the Minister of Food, in view of the overcrowding of existing plants, if he is now prepared to make arrangements for the provision of an additional sugar beet factory in East Suffolk.

The British Sugar Corporation has already begun to reconstruct its existing factories. When the work is completed, the capacity is expected to be adequate to handle the crop from the present acreage of sugar beet. If, at any time, a new factory is to be constructed the claims of East Suffolk will, of course, receive full consideration.

Displaced Persons' Camps, Austria And Ussr


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will issue instructions preventing Russian officers from visiting displaced persons' camps in the British zone of Austria until such time as he receives an assurance from the Soviet Government that British inspectors will be allowed similar facilities to visit camps in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where friends and relations of many foreign nationals, now political refugees in the United Kingdom, are known to be.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give an assurance that British conducting officers who accompany members of the Soviet Repatriation Mission visiting displaced persons' camps in the British zone of Austria are invariably fluent Russian speakers.

The British conducting officer, who accompanies members of the Soviet Repatriation Mission, is almost invariably a fluent Russian speaker.

Ussr (Passports)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the policy of his Department as to the issuing of passports to British nationals wishing to visit the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

There is no restriction on the issue of passports to British subjects wishing to visit the U.S.S.R. Persons visiting the U.S.S.R. or any Iron Curtain country are however advised, in their own interests, to furnish the nearest British consular officer on arrival with particulars of their passports, home addresses and details of their itinerary. They are further advised to keep in touch with the British consulate during their visit, and, after leaving the country, to notify the consul to whom they last reported.

Arrested Person, Jamaica (Compensation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the case of Vernon Hutchinson who was arrested in error in Jamaica and beaten at the police station so that he contracted tuberculosis from a broken rib, but is unable to obtain the compensation awarded by the court against the police officer; and whether he will make representations to the Jamaica Government on Mr. Hutchinson's behalf.

I am not aware of this case. My right hon. Friend is making inquiries of the Acting Governor and will write to my hon. Friend.

Palestine Police Force (Widows)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he proposes to take to deal with the cases of widows of men who served in the Palestine Police Force whose pension terminated with their death and whose widows have been declared ineligible for pensions under the National Insurance Act due to the fact that they have not been able to claim the necessary period of residence in this country.

The Palestine Government established a contributory widows' and orphans' fund, but its legislation made no other provision for pensions for widows of members of the Police Force unless the officer died as a result of injuries received in the execution of his duty, and my right hon. Friend regrets that he does not feel able to undertake a liability which was not assumed by that Government. The widows' and orphans' fund was wound up on termination of the Mandate and contributors received a refund of their own contributions plus those made by Government plus compound interest.

Colonial Empire

Defence Conference, Nairobi

85 and 96.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether he will make a statement on the contributions that it was agreed at the recent Defence Conference in Nairobi should be made by the Governments of the African Colonies;(2) what decision was reached at the recent Defence Conference in Nairobi regarding the organisation and establishment of local naval, military and air forces in the African Colonies.

I am glad to say that the Conference was most successful. It agreed to the existing organisation, equipment and establishments of the East and Central African Land Forces, subject to certain modifications in the Headquarters and Administrative Services which are now in process and which when completed will produce appreciable economies. The Conference did not deal with Naval or Air Forces. The Conference also agreed the basis for dividing the cost of the Forces between His Majesty's Government and the Colonial Governments concerned. The latter are still considering the proposals and I am not in a position to disclose them at present.

Medical Officers' Salaries


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies which Colonies pay their medical staff solely on qualifications and experience; and in which Colonies the rates of pay vary on grounds of race and colour.

In most Colonies Government medical officers, like other civil servants, are paid at uniform rates according to qualifications and experience, and irrespective of race or colour. In some Colonies expatriation pay is given in addition to basic salary to officers who do not belong to the Colony. In East and Central Africa there is no expatriation pay, but there are separate salary schemes for European, Asian and African civil servants. No exception to this arrangement is made in regard to medical staff.

"Corona" Magazine


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the "Corona" magazine is subsidised by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund.

The "Corona" magazine is so subsidised because it is considered to be an important means of communicating throughout the Colonial Service information and ideas conducive to the welfare and development of colonial peoples.

Gold Coast

Elections (Ballot Papers)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to satisfy himself that the electors in the Gold Coast elections understand what is written on the ballot papers, in view of the fact that nine out of every 10 electors are unable to read.

Under the procedure for primary elections in the rural constituencies, nothing will be written by the voter on the ballot paper. The voter will secretly place his paper in the box bearing the symbol or colour of the candidate for whom he wishes to vote. In the case of the urban constituencies a distinctive symbol and colour allocated to each candidate will appear against his name on the ballot paper. In the rare event of a voter being able to understand neither name, colour nor symbol, he may tell the presiding officer, no other person being present or within hearing, for whom he wishes to vote. The presiding officer will mark the paper accordingly and, in the presence of the voter, place it in the ballot box.

Electoral Methods (Legislation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress and modifications have been made in respect of the implementation of the Coussey Report on Constitutional Development in the Gold Coast.

The Select Committee on Electoral Methods has reported, and legislation giving effect to its recommendations has been introduced. Registration of voters is now in progress and it is expected that the first elections under the new Constitution will be held early in 1951. The administrative structure of the Government is in course of reorganisation into Ministries in preparation for the appointment of Ministers.As a result of further consideration in the Legislative Council, the method of election of members for the Northern Territories has been modified, and all 19 members will be elected by the Northern Territories Council, which is to be specially enlarged for this purpose. It has also been agreed that the age of voters should be reduced from 25 to 21 years and that the number of representatives of special interests in the new Legislature shall be increased from two, as was recommended by the Coussey Committee, to six, with the provision that only the two should have the power to vote in the full Assembly.


Secondary School Teachers' Salaries


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent the Government of Mauritius has consulted the Secondary School Teachers' Union on the revision of salaries and the revised method of allocation of financial aid to grant-aided secondary schools; and whether all such schools are included in the revised plan.

The Government of Mauritius has consulted fully with the Mauritius Secondary School Teachers' Union both as regards the revision of salaries and the revised method of allocation of financial aid to grant-aided Secondary Schools. The Officer Administering the Government informs me that full agreement was reached between the Director of Education and the Union on all points affecting teachers, but that not all aided Secondary Schools qualify for the revised system of grants.

Teachers' Pensions


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what provision has been made by the Government of Mauritius for the payment of pensions to superannuated teachers of non-Government secondary schools.

Malaya (Rubber Industry)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will consult with the owners of the rubber plantations in Malaya with a view to creating a reserve wage fund, so that the first impact of a slump in rubber will not fall upon the workers on the rubber plantations.

The High Commissioner would be very willing to help in any move by representatives of organisations for employers and employees in the rubber industry directed towards reducing the impact of a slump upon those employed in the industry and I have asked him to keep me informed of progress.




asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what were the polling hours and arrangements for the recent elections in Lagos; and whether those elections took place satisfactorily.

Polling hours were from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an hour's break at noon. The arrangements worked well except in one important respect. It was originally provided that there should be one polling division for each thousand voters, but in a Select Committee of Legislative Council (in which the Lagos members participated) this was increased to 3,000. Experience proved that in view of the large number of illiterate and inexperienced voters this figure was too big, and when the polling station closed at 6 p.m. there were still people waiting to vote. The Nigerian Government proposes to amend the law on this point for the future.

Opobo Chiefs (Claim)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has reconsidered the claim of Chief H. Jim Ja Ja and others to the return to them of the £1,000 deposited with the British Government in 1889 by the then Opobo Chiefs as security; why this was transferred to the Oil Rivers Protectorate for payment to Messrs. Miller Brothers, and only the interest of £65 11s. paid to the Chiefs; and, in particular, why the descendants of the Chiefs are not paid compound interest on the original sum.

On present information it appears that this sum was deposited not by the Chiefs but by Messrs. Miller Bros. on their behalf, and that repayment to the firm was authorised in 1892. The claim raised recently is, however, still under investigation as far as surviving records permit.

Development Officers


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many development officers have been recruited by the Government of Nigeria; how many of these are Africans; and what training is being given to the officers to enable them, subsequently, to enter the administrative or technical branches of Government service.

There are at present 116 development officers in Nigeria, 17 of whom are Africans. Normally an African wishing to secure training for senior administrative or technical posts would seek a scholarship award from the Central Public Service Board, which makes recommendations to the Governor.

Brunei (Mr Anthony Brooke)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the British Resident in his capacity as Resident has banned Mr. Anthony Brooke from entering Brunei when he wished to do so in order to have access to him in his capacity as judge; and whether this is a usual practice in the Colonial Service.

Mr. Anthony Brooke was prohibited from entering the State of Brunei for reasons unconnected with litigation by an Order made in 1947, which is still in operation.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what grounds Mr. Anthony Brooke has been classed as a prohibited immigrant within the meaning of the Immigration Enactment of the State of Brunei.

The exclusion of Mr. Brooke from Sarawak is necessary in the interests of peace and good Government in view of his position as a pretender and his avowed intention of challenging the cession of Sarawak to the Crown. The proximity of Brunei to Sarawak and the close intercourse between them necessitate the extension of the prohibition to Brunei.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why, on 27th October, 1950, Mr. Anthony Brooke was prohibited from entering Brunei for purposes connected with judicial proceedings in the British Resident's Court there; and whether, if he offers again to undertake not to engage in political activities, he will allow him to enter for a period not exceeding 48 hours.

For the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I have already given to his two previous questions. The answer to the second part is "No."

Northern Rhodesia (Coal Prospecting)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the recent discovery of coal in Northern Rhodesia.

In 1949 a syndicate representing the Government of Northern Rhodesia, the British South Africa Company and the copper companies was formed with the object of prospecting for coal in Northern Rhodesia. Preliminary surveys were begun in October, 1949, and completed in April, 1950, and drilling operations have since been carried out in the area between the railway and the Zambesi River. Coal beds have been discovered in a number of places, but my right hon. Friend has received no reports yet as to whether the coal is of commercial value.

Electricity Load Shedding


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the serious dislocation in production and the loss of wages caused by electricity power cuts; and, in view of the opposition of both sides of industry to working staggered hours, if he will consult with industries in order to arrange work on Saturday mornings to reduce the abnormal load during peak hours.

Yes. I regret that load shedding has been necessary on a number of occasions in the last two months. The National Joint Advisory Council considered the matter at its meeting on 25th October, and as a result the Electricity Sub-Committee of the Council met yesterday to examine the position. This meeting was attended by representatives of the British Electricity Authority, the British Employers' Confederation, the Trades Union Congress, Regional Boards and the Government Departments concerned. A further meeting is being held early next week for a detailed examination of the problem. In the meantime, Regional Boards are being asked for suggestions and the proposal of the hon. Member will be brought to the notice of the Sub-Committee.The problem is one of peak load between the hours 8 a.m. and 12 noon and particularly between 8–9.30 in the morning and 4–5.30 in the afternoon during the weekdays Monday to Friday. If all concerned, and especially domestic consumers, would take steps to reduce the use of electric appliances to the minimum during these hours the cuts in industrial production would be largely avoided.

Territorial Army (Efficiency Decoration)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he can state the length of time which elapses between the application for a Territorial efficiency decoration and the granting of such decoration.

Owing to the reduction of the qualifying period for the Territorial efficiency decoration from 20 to 12 years in September, 1949, the branch concerned received a vast number of applications and queries, and some applications have had to wait nearly 12 months before the decoration was granted. It is hoped that by March, 1951, all arrears will be cleared. Thereafter, the average length of time between the application for the decoration and its grant should be about one month.

YearNumber of DeathsRates per million population
* For the year 1920 and from 3rd September, 1939, the mortality rates for males and from 1st June, 1941, for females, have been calculated upon a national population which comprises civilians only but, as in other years, the numbers of deaths include those of non-civilians registered in England and Wales.
This information, in respect of the preceding ten years, is given in Tables 6 and 7 of Part I (Medical) of the Registrar General's Statistical Review for each year.

Overseas Letters (Bank Notes)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been called to the case of Mrs. Hill, Dorking, who sent a £1 Bank of England note in a letter of birthday greetings to her son.

Cancer (Death Statistics)

asked the Minister of Health if he will publish a table showing the number of deaths from cancer during each of the last 30 years together with the mortality per one million of men and women separately and in total.

The table required is as follows:Private Hill, who is a National Service man serving in Hong Kong, and which money was impounded by the Customs and Excise; and whether he will take steps to return this money and give an assurance that small gifts given by parents to National Service men abroad will not in future, be treated in this way.

United Kingdom bank notes found in the outgoing mails in contravention of the export prohibition are liable to forfeiture and are seized as provided by law. It would not be practicable to discriminate at the time of examination according to the circumstances of individual cases, but the seizures may be reviewed on appeal. I am writing to the hon. Member about this particular case. The public can ascertain the proper way to send money abroad by inquiring at any post office or bank. A poster is exhibited in post offices drawing attention to the prohibition.

National Health Service

Hospital Endowment Fund (Securities)

asked the Minister of Health what total of non-trustee securities donated in the past to the hospitals has now been sold; and what total remains to be sold.

Non-trustees securities with a nominal value of £5,191,675 have been transferred to the Hospital Endowment Fund. Of these securities £1,876,211 have been sold and £232,646 await disposal. The balance is being retained in the Fund for the time being.

Hearing Aids

asked the Minister of Health if he will extend the provision of hearing aids to include bone conduction types.

Yes. But I can do so only after the necessary technical investigations are complete and as soon thereafter as production can be organised.

Requisitioned Properties

asked the Minister of Works how many hotels, large houses, small houses and flats, respectively, in the United Kingdom are at present requisitioned by the Government for any other use than dwelling accommodation; and how many of each category have been released for use as dwelling accommodation since 31st March.

The number of hotels held on requisition in the United Kingdom (including London) by all Departments at 30th September last, for use other than as family dwellings, was 61. On the same basis 854 large houses, 355 small houses and 287 flats were held by Departments other than the Health Departments. Seven hotels, 156 large houses, 65 small houses and 311 flats have been released since 31st March, 1950, of which 10 large houses and three flats have been transferred to the Ministry of Health for dwelling purposes.

asked the Minister of Works how many hotels, large houses, small houses and flats, respectively, in the London Civil Defence Region are at present requisitioned by the Government for other use than dwelling accommodation; and how many of each category have been released for use as dwelling accommodation since 31st March.

At 30th September last 11 hotels and a part of another, 427 large houses, 151 small houses and 234 flats were held on requisition by Government Departments in the London Civil Defence Region for purposes other than family dwellings. Since 31st March, 1950, part of one hotel, 68 large houses, 21 small houses, and 305 flats have been released, of which five large houses, and one small house have been transferred to the Ministry of Health for dwelling purposes.

Administration Of Estates Act (Committee)

asked the Attorney-General if he is now in a position to give the names of the committee proposed to be set up to consider the review of the share of the surviving spouse on intestacy under the provisions of the Administration of Estates Act, 1925.

The following have been appointed as members of this Committee:

  • Lord Morton of Henryton (Chairman).
  • Mr. M. Albery.
  • Mr. B. E. Astbury, O.B.E.
  • Mr. A. W. Brown.
  • Sir Hugh Chance.
  • Mr. E. G. M. Fletcher, M.P.
  • Mr. J. G. Foster, K.C., M.P.
  • Lord Kershaw, O.B.E.
  • Mrs. Dorothy Rees, M.P.
Mr. D. R. Holloway, of the Principal Probate Registry, Somerset House, London, W.C.2, will be Secretary of the Committee.