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Written Answers

Volume 480: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 14th November, 1950

Basildon New Town

18.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning when the master plan for the new town of Basildon is likely to be approved.

Festival Of Britain

45.

asked the Lord President of the Council why trees of the species zelcova acuminata are being planted on the Festival of Britain site.

I have been asked to reply. There will be one tree of the species among the 69 to be planted in the South Bank Exhibition. It has been chosen because of its horticultural interest and the suitability of its shape, and also because it is not deep-rooted and is, therefore, comparatively easy to transplant.

49.

asked the Lord President of the Council why certain buyers for Festival Gardens Limited are being sent to the United States of America to purchase amusement machinery for the Festival of Britain; what dollar allocation has been allowed them; how often they have been in the United States of America previously for the purchase of such goods; and why those operators who operate in the large holiday resorts and who go each year to the United States of America have neither been consulted nor asked to do the purchasing on their regular visits to the United States of America.

I have been asked to reply. On the first two parts of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to my replies to Questions 47 and 48 in the House today. On the third part, Festival Gardens Ltd. will be represented for this purpose solely by one of its Directors who is also Chairman of the National Amusements Council and is himself an experienced and successful amusement park proprietor. I do not know whether he has been to America previously for the purchase of equipment but I feel I have every right to trust the judgment of the Board on its agent, and to rebut the unfair and unjustified implication that the fullest use is not being made of available experience and advice. All who were considered likely to be interested have actually been consulted and four operators (out of several invited) have agreed to go to America at their own expense and assist the Director in his choice. The Director will not purchase anything which, in his view, could be obtained in this country.

asked the Lord President of the Council how many people have been compelled to give up their homes to permit of the building of the Festival of Britain buildings; how many people have had to give up their businesses for the same reasons; and how far it is proposed to give the latter fair compensation.

On the 27 acre site which is being temporarily used for the South Bank Exhibition before its redevelopment under the County of London plan 753 persons were displaced at the time of clearance and have either been rehoused or offered alternative accommodation, mostly of a higher standard.On the Lansbury site at Poplar 533 persons were displaced to make room for the permanent redevelopment of the neighbourhood in time for the Festival, by the end of which it is estimated that 1,624 persons will have been provided with housing on this site in 444 new houses. All the persons displaced on this site have been or will be offered alternative accommodation.Thirty-five persons have had to give up their businesses on account of the clearance of the South Bank area; compensation has been or will be paid in all cases where there is an acquirable interest and

ex gratia payments have been or will be paid in appropriate cases and in cases of hardship. Of the 35 persons involved, eight have been offered alternative sites or premises.

At Lansbury, Poplar, 24 persons have had to give up their shops, 22 of whom have been or will be offered alternative premises.

All these operations are the responsibility of the London County Council. No persons have been displaced by any other buildings being built for the Festival of Britain Exhibitions.

National Finance

Personal Incomes

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer out of a total working population of 23,328,000, how many receive over £1,000 net per annum; and what is the total they receive per annum.

The 92nd Report of the Board of Inland Revenue contains the information available about the distribution of personal incomes before and after tax. For 1948–49 there were 434,000 tax payers with incomes exceeding £1,000 net after tax, and this total net income amounted to £713 million. The figures for 1949–50 are not yet available.

Purchase Tax

51 and 52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he will abolish the 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax on seaboot hose used by fishermen;(2) whether he will abolish the 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax on gutting gloves used by fishermen and fishergirls which adds 8s. 1½d. to the price of a dozen pairs.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider reducing Purchase Tax on uniforms for voluntary organisations, such as the Church Lads' Brigade, to bring them into line with pre-service organisations whose uniforms are issued free of charge.

The difficulties of providing relief for these articles were fully explained during the debate on the 1948 Finance Bill. I am afraid that those difficulties still exist and must be regarded as decisive.

Income Tax

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the fact that the Pay-As-You-Earn rebate system tends to facilitate unofficial strikes; and whether he will institute an inquiry with a view to modifying the system so that its harmful effects are removed without interfering with the rights of the worker.

In view of the setting up of a Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income, I see no need for any special inquiry.

55.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he permitted the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to offer on 11th August last a reward of 30s., free of tax, for the introduction of each new recruit; and under what circumstances do his regulations allow rewards to be offered free of liability for tax.

These rewards, which do not accrue to the police officer by virtue of the performance of the duties of his employment, are not taxable under Income Tax law.

73.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that some claims for relief from Income Tax on account of hotel or restaurant expenses are being supported by bogus receipted bills; and what action he is taking in this matter.

I have seen Press reports to this effect, and I take this opportunity to point out that anyone who produced a false bill as evidence would be guilty of fraud and liable to heavy punishment.

Publication "Report To Women"

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the June issue of "Report to Women" prepared by the Economic Information Unit of the Treasury and published by the Central Office of Information; and whether he will give instructions that this publication shall in future be freed from political bias by giving equal prominence to unpleasant as to pleasant truths.

Yes. But I cannot agree that the publication in question was politically biased. Economic news at the time was mostly very good, and in any case there were a number of references in the Report to unpleasant features of the situation.

85.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the annual cost of the Central Office of Information publication "Report to Women"; and how many copies are printed of each issue.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary gave to the right hon. Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) on Tuesday, 31st October, last.

Historic Buildings (Recommendations)

56.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is in a position to state what action will be taken by His Majesty's Government as a result of the recommendation of the Gowers Committee on historic buildings.

Dollar Purchases

67.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many dollars would be required to purchase the extra timber to allow 300,000 houses to be built per annum and to purchase the additional sugar necessary to end sweet and sugar rationing.

On the basis of current prices the cost of the timber required for an additional 100,000 houses would be of the order of 20 million dollars plus freight charges of about £3 million of which some part would be in dollars; enough extra sugar to abolish sweet and sugar rationing would cost approximately 115 million dollars.

Banks (Credit Policy)

69.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice he has given, or what requests he has made, to the banks during the past six months concerning their credit policy.

No additional requests have been necessary during this period, but the banks have continued to co-operate closely in applying the credit policy of the Government as communicated to them by my predecessor.

Watches (Customs Seizure)

68.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many watches have been seized by the Customs authorities during the past 12 months; how these are disposed of; what total amount was realised; and to what account it is credited.

In the year ended 31st August last, some 67,000 watches were seized by the Customs. Seized watches are sold by tender but owing to the time lag between seizure and sales the amount realised in any given period does not relate to the watches seized during that period. The receipts include duty, which is accounted for as such, and the balance is entered as an Appropriation in Aid of the Customs and Excise Vote.

Sterling Area (Exports)

70.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of gold and foreign currency accruing to the sterling area pool since 1st January, 1950, through exports by members of the sterling area other than the United Kingdom.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to Tables 9 and 10 of Cmd. 8065.

European Payments Union (Germany)

72.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what attitude has been adopted by representatives of His Majesty's Government during the recent discussions to solve the payments problems of Western Germany and Austria as members of the European Payments Union.

The position of Germany in relation to the European Payments Union is being considered today by the Council of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. His Majesty's Government will support all constructive proposals for meeting Germany's present difficulties. No such question has arisen in the case of Austria.

Emigrants, Canada (Currency Restrictions)

74.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now prepared to increase the dollar allowance to individuals wishing to emigrate to Canada in view of the importance of encouraging such emigration, and of the cramping effect of his present regulations.

79.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequr if he will now increase the amount of money which British emigrants are allowed to take with them to Canada.

I would refer to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Major Hicks-Beach) on 23rd October.

Sterling Balances

71.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount by which current sterling balances held by members of the sterling area have increased since 1st January, 1950.

Exports, Brazil (Payment)

75.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make representations to the Brazilian Government with a view to securing the release of currency to enable payment to be made for British imports into Brazil.

81.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the delays at present taking place in the transfer of funds from Brazil to this country in settlement of current trading debts; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this.

His Majesty's Government are concerned at the present delays in payments to British exporters, which are to some extent due to a seasonal shortage of sterling in Brazil, and are already discussing with the Brazilian authorities ways and means of expediting payment. I do not think that any useful purpose would be served at present by making formal representations.

Customs Duties (Service Men)

82.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the heavy Customs duties charged on presents brought home from the Far East by men of H.M.S. "Triumph"; and if he will make regulations so as to permit his officials to levy lower charges when dealing with members of the Services returning from long periods of duty overseas.

I am aware that presents brought home by men of H.M.S. "Triumph" were charged with duty and Purchase Tax in the normal way. The law does not allow presents to be exempted from these charges and I do not consider that a special concession for returning Service men could be justified.

No 2, Park Street

76.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many copies of "The Times" are supplied daily to No. 2, Park Street; and whether there has been any reduction in the number of copies since the cut in newsprint supplies on 6th November.

Two copies are placed in the lounge for general use and 21 others are at present sold to guests. No reduction was made on 6th November.

Dollar Restrictions (Sterling Area)

83.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on the report made by the International Monetary Fund that dollar restrictions in the United Kingdom and certain other sterling area countries should be relaxed.

Yes, I welcome the opportunity to make the position clear.The House will recall that in 1949, in view of the drain on the central gold and dollar reserves, the Sterling Area Governments concerned agreed in effect to reduce dollar imports to 75 per cent. of their value in an earlier year. In accordance with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade the other parties to the agreement were informed and consultations with them are now taking place at Torquay. The International Monetary Fund has, by invitation, sent a representative to take part in these discussions, and the report referred to by the hon. Member is, I understand, the material which the Fund prepared for the use of their representative.While I have no wish to anticipate or prejudice the proceedings at Torquay, I must emphasise that these consultations do not require either any determination by the Fund or any conclusion by the Contracting Parties on the justification for the restrictions under review. Decisions on such matters must be taken by Governments—in the light, of course, of their international obligations.The policy of His Majesty's Government in this matter is perfectly clear. Like other Commonwealth Governments concerned with the strength of sterling and with the stability of the sterling area, we must have regard to our assessment of our own position and also to the interests of the sterling area as a whole.During the informal Commonwealth Economic talks which were held in London in September of this year, it was realised that the 75 per cent. formula as such had been rendered out of date by price increases, by stockpiling needs, and by the deterioration in the international situation. While, therefore, it was agreed that this particular formula could not be continued, nevertheless there was also unanimous agreement on the need to rebuild reserves to an adequate level, on the need to increase dollar earnings by the export of goods and services, on the importance of the part played in our recovery by the 1949 decision to reduce dollar imports, and on the need to maintain strict economy in dollar expenditure. These considerations will continue to govern the policy of His Majesty's Government.

Civil Service

Equal Pay

78.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the names of those women in the Civil Service in receipt of equal pay for equal work.

No. There are some five to six hundred women serving in grades where women get the same rates of pay as men, and I do not consider that any useful purpose would be served by publishing their names.

Ex-Service Men

86.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why ex-Service men applying for entry to the Civil Service are entitled to discount their period of service in assessing their age limitations if they were Regulars but not if they enlisted for the war.

For men and women who missed opportunities of competing for the Civil Service during the war years, the Civil Service Commissioners held a series of Reconstruction Competitions with extended age limits, in accordance with the proposals in Cmd. 6567 which were approved by the House of Commons. Special arrangements for the resettlement of those who voluntarily undertake Regular engagements are a matter of permanent peace-time policy and they would be worth much less to ex-Regulars if they covered others.

Security (Suspended Officers)

84.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will give the number of persons at present suspended from Government employment for security reasons; the average period of suspension; and the number receiving full pay.

Thirteen officers are at present on special leave with full pay. The average period is about three months.

Trade And Commerce

Engineering Mission, Canada

87.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made with the implementation of the recommendations made in the Report of the United Kingdom Engineering Mission to Canada, published in 1949.

The recommendations of the United Kingdom Engineering Mission to Canada were mainly general in character and primarily addressed to United Kingdom manufacturers of engineering equipment. Progress with their implementation can, therefore, be judged best from the development of our exports to Canada of the equipment concerned. I am happy to say that our exports of machinery to Canada (including Newfoundland) have risen from a value of £3,691,411 in the first nine months of 1948 to £6,343,320 in the corresponding period of this year. This achievement reflects great credit both on the industry and on the late Sir Harry Gilpin and the members of his Mission.

Companies (Investigations)

88.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, to avoid creating an erroneous impression, he will in future, when announcing the appointment of inspectors to investigate the affairs of a company, state the specific matters which they are to investigate.

Scandinavia (Hosiery Exports)

89.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in his trade negotiations with Sweden, Norway and Denmark, he will press for larger permits for hosiery and knitwear goods which can be supplied by this country and do not compete with their own productions; and if he will make a statement on the position.

I can assure the hon. Member that in our trade negotiations with Sweden, Norway and Denmark we shall seek the best possible provision for all the goods which can be supplied from this country, including hosiery and knitwear. Exports of hosiery to the Scandinavian countries are running at an annual rate of nearly £2¾ million which is 80 per cent. more than in 1949.

Garments (Imports From Hong Kong)

91.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the increase in the imports of apparel from Hong Kong during the past

VALUE OF UNITED KINGDOM EXPORTS OF ELECTRICAL GENERATING SETS AND GENERATORS (INCLUDING PARTS THEREOF) EXPORTED FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM TO THE SOVIET UNION AND TO COUNTRIES UNDER SOVIET INFLUENCE DURING 1945–1949 AND JANUARY—SEPTEMBER, 1950
£'000
194519461947194819491950 Jan.—Sept.
Soviet Union8619051,4691,1584,2814,340
Poland0108192523
Hungary01331
Czechoslovakia68136
Albania79
Bulgaria8
Note: No exports were recorded to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Roumania during these periods. Figures for the first 10 months of 1950 are not yet available.

Honey (Labels)

94.

asked the President of the Board of Trade on what authority Mr. Hewitt, of Heapham Mill, near Gainsborough, who sells honey to the public, has been instructed to alter the spelling on the labels from "1 lb. Nett" to "1 lb. Net."

I am glad that our attention has been drawn to this matter. The provisions of the Prepacked Foods

year, as compared with that of the previous year, is due to increased production in Hong Kong; and whether the total figure includes any goods imported into Hong Kong and then exported to this country.

The main reason for the increased imports of apparel from Hong Kong during 1950 as compared with 1949 is that, in pursuance of the Government's policy of liberalising international trade, restrictions on the import of apparel from most countries outside the dollar area were removed in October, 1949. I am satisfied that all the garments which have been imported into this country from Hong Kong were manufactured in that Colony.

Electricity Generating Plant (Exports)

93.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many pounds sterling worth of electricity generating plant have been exported to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and countries, under Soviet influence, respectively, during each of the years 1945–49, inclusive, and during the first 10 months of 1950.

Following is the answer:(Weights and Measures: Marking) Order, 1950, are intended for the protection of the customer, but strict compliance in this case is unnecessary for that purpose.

American Motor Cars (Import)

95.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many United States motor cars of each make are permitted to be imported into this country for display purposes.

Under a special arrangement for the 1950 International Motor Exhibition, 11 importers were allowed to bring in 66 United States cars of 16 different makes. No other United States motor cars were permitted to be imported for display purposes.

96.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the disposal arrangements of United States cars imported into this country for display purposes.

United States cars are imported for display purposes only for the International Motor Exhibitions. Import licences for cars for the 1950 Exhibition were granted on the understanding that the importing agents would dispose of as many of the cars as possible to persons able to pay in dollars or other hard currency; and that as much of the balance as possible would be absorbed within the agents' organisations or sold to persons (e.g., doctors) who in the national interest should have them. A one-year covenant against re-sale is obtained for all cars sold.

Paper Manufacture (Alternative Materials)

100.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to investigate the development of new techniques for paper manufacture; and what investigation is being made into the use of bamboos grown in Cornwall for this purpose.

In view of the world shortage of wood pulp, we should welcome the increased use of alternative materials. From past investigation, particularly during the years of the recent war, it is unlikely that any other home-grown fibrous material would prove to be as suitable as straw, the use of which is believed to involve less technical difficulty than any alternative home-produced material. In the absence of large-scale cultivation, the yield from Cornish bamboo would be very small and hardly economic.

Tariffs And Trade (General Agreement)

101.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the tariff reductions on British goods by foreign countries negotiated at Annecy in 1949 have been offset by quotas and other restrictions on imports.

Under the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in which these tariff reductions are incorporated, it is permissible for contracting Governments to apply import restrictions where this is necessary to safeguard their balance of payments. This has been recognised from the outset of the post-war negotiations; and most Governments which are parties to the General Agreement are necessarily availing themselves of this facility and applying restrictions over a part of their import trade. But as a result particularly of the policy of relaxation of import restrictions sponsored by the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the import restrictions applied to the United Kingdom export trade by other countries, including those which acceded to the General Agreement as a result of the Annecy Conference, have on the whole become appreciably less severe since the Annecy negotiations were concluded.

Utility Cotton And Rayon (Recommendations)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now able to make a statement regarding the work of the two committees set up in May last in connection with the supply of utility type cotton and rayon cloth.

I have received certain interim recommendations from both the Cotton and the Rayon Utility Scheme Committees dealing with the first part of their terms of reference, namely, the steps necessary to secure an early increased supply of utility-type cloth.The Cotton Committee have recommended that the converters' maximum prices in force in July last should be raised by 6 per cent. in order to make them reasonably remunerative to the converters, and that there should be a system of regular adjustments of these prices to take account of changes in the cost of raw materials. These measures would supersede the interim price increase of 5 per cent. on utility cotton cloths which I made on the Committee's recommendation in August. I have decided to accept these recommendations and the necessary Orders, which will take account of increases in the cost of raw materials up to the end of October, will be made as soon as possible.The Cotton Committee have also recommended that for cotton cloths which have a considerable element of fashion, such as dress cloths, a number of broader specifications should be introduced to allow greater variety in construction and to permit a wider range of cloths to be brought into the utility scheme.The Rayon Committee have made a similar recommendation for permitting broader specifications for continuous filament rayon cloths. They have not yet submitted any recommendation about spun rayon cloths.In making these recommendations for broader specifications, both of these Committees have pointed out that the introduction of such specifications will be of great help to the export trade where it is essential to offer a certain novelty of construction or finish.The Government has accepted in principle both Committee's recommendations for broader specifications, but in accordance with the express recommendation of each Committee, I am arranging for the proposed new specifications to be discussed with the organisations concerned in the wholesale trade and the making-up industry.I should like to take this opportunity of thanking my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and all the members of his Committees for the valuable work they have already done. They have expressed the view that the adoption of these interim recommendations will result in the proportion of utility production being raised well above present levels; and they will now turn their attention to the second part of their terms of reference dealing with the changes which may be desirable if the utility schemes are to play their full part in the national economy in the years to come.

Scotland

Tuberculosis

102.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if the committee appointed by the National Health Service Council in July, 1948, to inquire into the high incidence of tuberculosis in Scotland has come to any findings; and if these are to be published.

I understand that this report will be presented to the Scottish Health Services Council at their meeting next month. The Council will then have to consider whether they should forward it to my right hon. Friend, and the question of publication will only then arise.

103.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any report to make on the visit of his two officials to Switzerland for the purpose of inquiring into the treatment of tuberculosis.

Their report was received only this morning, but I understand it is sufficiently encouraging to justify a further visit by clinical experts, arrangements for which are being put in hand.

Defence Regulations 63B (Prosecutions)

104.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many prosecutions there have been since 1945 under Defence Regulation 63B for making muirburn between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

There were two prosecutions in 1946 and one in 1947 under Defence Regulation 63B, but none was for making muirburn between the hours of sunset and sunrise. The Regulation was revoked from 1st February, 1948.

Recalled Reservists (Grants)

105.

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that many grants made by the National Service Grants Committee of his Department to dependants of reservists recalled to the Colours are inadequate; and, as there is no recourse to national assistance and the grants require supplementation by voluntary agencies, if he will give instructions for all grants to be reviewed and increased where hardship is now being suffered.

I am not aware that any of these grants, paid by my Department on behalf of the Service Departments, are inadequate. If the hon. Member will give me information about any particular dependant who is suffering hardship, I will gladly have inquiries made.

Agriculture

Wool Prices

106.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what prices he has been paying for blackface wool in recent weeks; and at what prices he has been selling it.

The maximum prices which are paid to producers for Scottish blackface wool of the 1950 clip are 29¾d. per lb. for washed wool, and 26¾d. per lb. for greasy wool. The prices received for blackface wool at recent auction sales have ranged between 80d. and 84d. per lb.

Electricity, Wales

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many farms in Caernarvonshire have been connected with electricity since the end of the war.

I am informed that since the end of 1945, 250 farms in Caernarvonshire have been connected with electricity.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many farms have been connected with electricity in Wales since the end of the war.

I am informed that since the end of 1945 some 2,300 farms in Wales have been connected with electricity.

Gurkha Troops

109.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the arrangement with the Government of Nepal about the employment of Gurkha troops by His Majesty's Government in Malaya and other parts of South-East Asia; whether these are liable to recall; and, if so, what notice has to be given by the Government of Nepal.

Our arrangements with the Government of Nepal for the employment of Gurkha troops by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are contained in a Memorandum of Agreement signed in Katmandu on the 9th November, 1947, by Representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom, India and Nepal and in accompanying documents. The Minister of Defence informed the House of the signature of this Memorandum on the 1st December, 1947, and gave details of the main points which it contained. In an annexure to the Memorandum, the Government of Nepal reserved the right to withdraw Gurkha troops in the event of Nepal becoming involved in war and we accepted this reservation on the understanding that it would not be exercised when Nepal was at war as an ally of the United Kingdom. There are, however, no stipulations about the notice which would have to be given by the Government of Nepal in this event.

Coal Imports

107.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will give an assurance that no overseas produced coal will be imported during the next 12 months.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave yesterday to questions by the hon. Members for Burton (Mr. Colgate) and Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) and by himself.

France (British Subjects, Taxation)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to a statement in the judgment of the French Tribunal, Civil de la Seine, in the case of de Morinni versus Enregistrement, citing as one of the reasons for its adverse decision, a letter from His Majesty's Ambassador in Paris of 18th October, 1946, in which it was stated that it was not the intention of His Majesty's Government to contest the opinion of the French Government that the Treaty of 1882 does not exempt British subjects from the Impôt de Solidarite; and whether he will make it clear that no agreed interpretation of the Treaty exists between the British and French Governments to the effect that British subjects are not exempt from this tax.

His Majesty's Government have refrained from invoking the Treaty of 1882 as a matter of policy. For this reason they have not found it necessary to contest the interpretation of the French Government, to the effect that the Treaty does not exempt British subjects from the tax in question. It does not follow from this that an agreed interpretation exists; such, in fact is not the case. I understand that this matter is the subject of litigation in the French courts. It appears to His Majesty's Government that the interpretation put by the French Tribunal on the letter of 18th October, 1946, from His Majesty's Embassy to the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, may have prejudiced the claims of British subjects to this exemption.

Housing (Rates Assessment)

111.

asked the Minister of Health what is the basis for the assessment of rates on a four-bedroomed postwar council house and on a privately-built flat, similar in size and in the same district.

All dwelling-houses are at present assessed on the basis of the rent at which they might reasonably be expected to let from year to year. In the revaluation, post-1918 local authority houses will be assessed by reference to 1938 construction and site costs, and privately-built flats by reference to the rents which were being paid on 31st August, 1939.

National Health Service

Tyconium Dentures

asked the Minister of Health whether he will explore the possibilities of manufacturing tyconium dentures for the National Health Service in view of the excellence of this material and the low production cost after the initial outlay has been met.

I understand that tyconium is not available in this country, but I am already in close touch with investigations into the use of similar alloys for the manufacture of cast dentures.

>Smallpox

asked the Minister of Health how many deaths from smallpox were recorded in 1949 in England and Wales; and what were their ages.

Five deaths from smallpox were registered in England and Wales in 1949. The ages were 24, 34, 61 (2) and 68.

asked the Minister of Health how many certificates were received in 1949 on which death was attributed to vaccination, post-vaccinal encephalitis, vaccinia or any complication of vaccination; and what were the ages of the victims.

There were three deaths from vaccinia, etc., or in which there was mention of vaccination on the certificate. The ages were 13 months, 6 years and 71 years.

Aldershot Tattoo, 1951 (Cancellation)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is intended to hold an Aldershot Tattoo in 1951.

I regret that it has been necessary to cancel the Aldershot Tattoo which it was proposed to hold in 1951. This decision has been rendered unavoidable by the commitments which the Army will incur during 1951 and, in particular, by the need to complete the new divisions recently announced. The holding of smaller displays during 1951 is unlikely to be affected by this decision.

National Service (Call-Up)

asked the Minister of Labour the total number of men born prior to 1st January, 1929, who were liable to be called up for service under the National Service Act, 1947; the number in this age category who were actually called up; and the number whose call-up was deferred and who have not yet undergone any training.

Under the National Service Act, 1947, as consolidated in the National Service Act, 1948, liability for call-up was limited on or after 1st January, 1949, except for registered medical practitioners and dentists, to men between the ages of 18 and 26 other than those who had served in the Forces before the end of 1946 and those who were called-up or received commissions in 1947 and 1948 and performed a period of whole-time service equivalent to that which would have been required of them under the 1948 Act.As statistics of the numbers called-up by age classes are not available for years earlier than 1947, it is not possible to say how many men born before 1st January, 1929, were still liable for call-up on 1st January, 1949. It was, however, announced in May, 1946, in the White Paper on Call-Up to the Forces in 1947 and 1948 (Cmd. 6831), that, as from 1st January, 1947, call-up would, subject to certain exceptions, be limited to men born in 1929 or later. The number of men between the ages of 18 and 26 at that date so excluded from the call-up field is estimated at 400,000, two-thirds of whom were in coalmining, agriculture and the shipping and building industries. The majority of the remainder were key men in the engineering and metal industries. The number of men born before 1st January, 1929, called-up during 1947 and 1948 and on or after 1st January, 1949, are 52,100, 3,300 and 2,150, respectively.

Employment

Hull

asked the Minister of Labour if he has considered the large number of unemployed in Hull; and what schemes he has in project to relieve this problem.

The problem of finding work for the large numbers of unemployed in Hull is continually under review in my Department in conjunction with the Board of Trade. It is estimated that the completion of the rebuilding of industrial premises lost as a result of enemy action and the erection of a number of new factories and extensions will provide between 2,000 and 3,000 additional jobs. It is expected that there will then be enough work for women, but more will still be needed for men.

Dangerous Occupations (Safety Precautions)

asked the Minister of Labour if he has considered the death from asphyxia of Terence Arthur Deacon at the South-Western Tar Distilleries, Totton, working under conditions where he should have been supplied with a respirator; and what steps he takes to enforce employers to take all reasonable precautions and supply all reasonable equipment to protect their workmen engaged in dangerous occupations.

I understand that breathing apparatus was available but that in the case of the exceptional job which this man undertook on the occasion in question the extent of the risk was not appreciated, and he was not positively instructed to wear a mask, though the advisability of doing so had been mentioned to him earlier. My Department enforces the Factories Acts, but the law cannot ensure that employers always take all reasonable precautions.

East Suffolk

asked the Minister of Labour the numbers of unemployed in East Suffolk, including the agricultural industry, between the years 1935 to 1939 and 1945 to 1949.

The following table gives the information desired:

NUMBERS OF UNEMPLOYED PERSONS ON THE REGISTERS OF EMPLOYMENT EXCHANGES IN THE COUNTY OF EAST SUFFOLK IN JULY OF THE SPECIFIED YEARS
DateMalesFemalesTotal
July, 19354,7974485,245
July, 19363,9264914,417
July, 19373,6834204,103
July, 19384,6796115,290
July, 19394,7847985,582
July, 194522080300
July, 1946803118921
July, 1947636122758
July, 1948810107917
July, 1949663139802

Liverpool

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the unemployment figures for Liverpool at the last convenient date; and also the corresponding figures for 1948 and 1949.

19,162 at 16th October, 1950. The corresponding figures for 11th October, 1948, and 10th October, 1949, were 22,953 and 21,457 respectively. The figures relate to Employment Exchanges in Liverpool and Bootle.

National Insurance (Reciprocal Arrangements)

asked the Minister of National Insurance what countries have accepted reciprocal insurance arrangements with the United Kingdom; and if she is taking further steps to widen the area of such arrangements.

Reciprocal arrangements are in operation with Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man for National Insurance, Industrial Injuries Insurance and family allowances: with the Irish republic for sickness, maternity and unemployment benefits, and for the insurance of seamen: with New Zealand for family allowances: and with France for National Insurance and Industrial Injuries Insurance. A multilateral agreement on social security signed by the five Brussels Treaty Powers has been ratified by this country. Negotiations are taking place for further agreements with Australia, the Irish Republic, France, Belgium, The Netherlands. Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland. Negotiations with the Federal Republic of Germany are due to begin next month. The possibility of making bilateral and multilateral agreements on social security similar to those made by the Brussels Treaty Powers is being examined by a Committee of Experts set up by the Council of Europe.

Post Office

Mails, East Africa And Zanzibar

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the inconvenience caused to people in East Africa and Zanzibar by the slow delivery of surface mails; that parcels and newspapers sent from the United Kingdom now take two months to reach their destination, the time involved is twice as long as before the war, and these delays cause distress to individuals and trading losses to firms which transact their business by parcel post; if he will arrange for mails from the United Kingdom for East Africa and Zanzibar to be put on ships calling at Marseilles; and what other steps he proposes to take to secure an improvement in this position.

I am aware of some dissatisfaction regarding surface mails for East Africa and Zanzibar and that the service is not as good as could be wished. Recent transmission times have been varied between 22 and 46 days for East Africa and between 29 and 48 for Zanzibar.The Post Office makes the best possible use of sailings from this country, and has already under discussion with the French and Italian authorities the possibility of embarking letter mails at Marseilles or Italian ports when this offers advantage. Consideration has also been given to transhipping mails at Aden, but at present this offers little scope for improving the service. If my hon. Friend will let me have details of any cases in which excessive delay has occurred full investigation will be made.

Light Vans

asked the Postmaster-General how many new light vans have been acquired by the Post Office during the past most recent 12 months for which figures are available.

The number of new light vans acquired by the Post Office during the year ended the 30th September, 1950, was 1,384.

Deliveries, Shoreditch

asked the Postmaster-General if he is satisfied that the average time of delivery of the first post at Aske House, Shoreditch, N.1, is as early as it is practicable to make it with the staff available.

Telephone Service

Shared Lines, Wembley

asked the Postmaster-General the number of shared telephone lines in service in the Borough of Wembley; and how many of these are shared compulsorily.

One thousand and seventy-four subscribers in the areas served by the Wembley, Corinthian and Arnold exchanges are sharing telephone lines. Since January, 1948, new and removing residential subscribers have been under obligation to share their telephone. I am glad that a number of other subscribers have voluntarily agreed to share, but details are not available.

Installations, Cheltenham

asked the Postmaster-General the difference in time taken at present by his Department dealing with the Cheltenham area for installing telephones from the date of ordering when compared with 1938.

In 1938 the normal period was under two weeks. It is now about two months in priority cases, where plant is available, and longer in other cases. The change is due to the present severe restriction of our capital expenditure, and the consequent limitation of labour and stores available for connecting up new subscribers.

Applications, Devonshire

asked the Postmaster-General how many applications for telephone connections are outstanding in the County of Devon; and how many additional connections have been made within the past 12 months.

Seven thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight applications were outstanding on 30th September, 1950. Six thousand five hundred and ninety additional connections were made during the preceding 12 months.

Royal Air Force (Civilian Flying Instructors)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will consult with the Minister, of Pensions, with a view to reconsidering the position in regard to pensions of ex-officers of the Royal Air Force who are now employed as civilian flying instructors at regular Royal Air Force training stations, in view of the fact that an assistant chief flying instructor was recently killed while on duty at such a training station and his widow has been informed that under existing regulations she is not eligible for a Service pension although her husband at the time of his death was still a member of the Royal Air Force Reserve.

Civilian flying instructors engaged at Reserve Flying Schools are employees of private firms working under contract to the Air Ministry. These contracts provide that pilots employed by the contractor notwithstanding that they may be members of the non-regular Air Force, are to be regarded at all times and for all purposes as servants of the contractor, except when on Air Force service. In these circumstances, I regret that I can see no ground for suggesting that civilian flying instructors should be made eligible for Service pension when engaged on the business of their employers.

Food Supplies

Dried Fruit

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that housewives are unable to purchase the necessary dried fruit for their Christmas puddings and mincemeat owing to the fact that allocations of dried fruit in village stores are inadequate in comparison with the sup plies going to the larger towns; and if he will have this matter remedied.

I cannot agree that village stores do not get their fair share of dried fruit compared with shops in the larger towns. Almost all the dried fruit sold for household use is already allocated on the basis of traders' sugar registrations, so as to ensure that supplies are distributed fairly throughout the country.

Seed Potatoes

asked the Minister of Food if he will publish a table showing the quantity of seed potatoes grown, separately, in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and the quantity exported to countries outwith the United Kingdom in the years 1947, 1948 and 1949, with an estimate of the quantity grown and exports from each of these sources separately in 1950.

It is not possible to make an estimate of the quantity to be exported in 1950–51 as exports of most varieties are being made by private traders under open general licence. The

Crop YearAcreage of Certified Seed PotatoesTonnage of Seed Potatoes Exported*
England and WalesScotlandNorthern IrelandEngland and WalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
AcresTons
1947–4811,516105,46953,8218,4085,49614,784
1948–4918,950117,81770,5853,1949,44227,278
1949–5014,63799,95251,0482,1259,84936,759
1950–5115,203†98,99444,249†
* Based on Ministry of Food figures.
† Provisional.

Condemned Beef

asked the Minister of Food what is the nominal weight and cash value of beef condemned as unfit for human consumption from cattle graded at his Department's grading centres.

following table give the other information:

In the year ended 30th June, 1950, 5,535 tons of beef from cattle graded at collecting centres was condemned as unfit for human consumption. This represents 1.002 per cent. of the cattle purchased and the value of the beef condemned was £692,041.