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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 November 1950

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Water Supplies

Beaminster District

1.

asked the Minister of Health why, in view of the need for the improvement of water supplies in rural areas, his Department is discouraging the Beaminster Rural District Council from proceeding with their water supply scheme for Corscombe and Halstock by deferring their application for a grant on this and on the Netherbury scheme until the whole regional water scheme is considered.

I am informed that the council are proceeding with the scheme. The deficiency on this and the other work now in hand is not sufficient to warrant a grant, but it will be taken into account if and when other schemes are approved.

Is the Minister aware that a 1s. 6d. rate is involved in this scheme and that that is a considerable deterrent to rural councils in formulating schemes?

The amount involved in this scheme is only 2½d. As I have said, we will take this into account with the other schemes when they are approved.

Local Authority Schemes

34.

asked the Minister of Health what is the total value of the claims submitted to him by local authorities under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act, 1944; the total amount of expenditure which he has authorised, and the amount of money that has been actually spent under the provisions of that Act up to 31st October, 1950, or the nearest convenient date.

Up to 31st October, 1950, grants under the Act have been claimed in respect of schemes estimated to cost about £80 million; the cost of schemes so far authorised for grants amounts to £18,600,000 and £2,237,000 has been paid by way of grant, in addition schemes have been approved in principle for another £18,130,000 and grants promised, finally or conditionally, for £9,793,000.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why so small an amount of grant assistance has actually been paid out?

We think that the grant assistance which has been paid out has been adequate in proportion to the schemes approved.

Government Officials (Superannuation)

2.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he proposes to take to ensure that superannuation benefits are enjoyed in cases of officials transferred from local to national government service before 4th February, 1948, and who were debarred thereby from continuing superannuation payments through no fault of their own.

The superannuation rights of officials compulsorily transferred from local to national government service are already safeguarded. I can hold out no prospect of restoring rights already relinquished by an officer who transferred voluntarily before 4th February, 1948, the date of the introduction of the Bill for the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1948.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the grave injustice caused to some officials who put in over 25 years' devoted service? Will he not look at the matter again?

There is no injustice to a person who transferred on his own initiative before the Act was in operation.

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to receive representations with a view to reviewing the position of these officers and the conditions under which the whole or part of their local government service might be taken into account, because there are some serious anomalies?

I think these are matters to be taken up by the representatives of the persons concerned through the Whitley machinery.

National Health Service

Chronic Sick, Essex (Accommodation)

3.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to overcome the acute shortage of accommodation for the elderly sick in the County of Essex.

The Regional Hospital Board have asked that at least 10 per cent. of the beds in each general hospital should be set aside for chronic sick patients. Additional beds have been provided as staff has become available, special geriatric units have been set up, and arrangements have been made for private institutions to take a considerable number of patients. Everything possible will continue to be done compatible with the staff and medical resources available.

While appreciating that answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that there are still large numbers of people, in Essex at least, who, in the opinion of their doctors, should be removed to a hospital? As great suffering is caused thereby, will the Minister not treat this matter with greater urgency?

There is a very large number of people in this category, far more than ever there were and far more in hospitals now than ever before. This is a very difficult and grave social problem.

Is the Minister aware that of all the people who have been helped by the National Health Service Act the old, chronically sick have been helped least of all? Is it not a fact that they were better housed in Poor Law institutions and——

Arguments are not in order at Question time. Hon. Members should only ask for information, or press for Government action.

Part-Time Nurses

8.

asked the Minister of Health why the number of part-time nurses has fallen from 136,000 to 25,000; and what his policy is in regard to part-time nursing.

The hon. Member seems to have been misinformed. The number of part-time nurses has never been higher than the present total of 25,000, and was about 17,000 when the National Health Service began. My policy is to encourage their employment wherever there are serious staff shortages.

Tuberculosis

9.

asked the Minister of Health how many notifications of new cases of tuberculosis in England and Wales were recorded in 1949.

I think it is an increase. These increases are due to the fact that we are now using mass radiography. Although we are discovering more tuberculosis of a respiratory kind—the increase in the number of notifications being 5½ per cent.—there has been a decrease in the number of deaths, over the last five years, of 12½ per cent.

In view of the fact that these tragic figures continue to rise and good housing is preventive medicine, will the right hon. Gentleman not now consider treating houses as a No. 1 priority?

The hon. Member has obviously ignored the last part of my last reply. The number of fatalities is falling, although the number of notified cases is on the increase. I should have thought that everyone would rejoice about that.

24.

asked the Minister of Health what arrangements have been made to ensure that those who, as a result of the mass radiology tests are found to be in the early stages of tuberculosis have the requisite treatment.

They are referred to a chest physician and treated according to their need and the facilities available.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there is not now very much delay in many cases before these people can get any sort of treatment?

There is delay. As I explained in answer to an earlier Question, many people have been discovered to be suffering from respiratory tuberculosis at an earlier stage, but, fortunately, the treatment is resulting in a reduction in the number of fatalities.

25.

asked the Minister of Health how long a tuberculosis patient has now to wait for a hospital bed.

It depends so widely on the individual circumstances and local resources in each case that no average figure would have much meaning.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that this situation is improving, because it seems to a great many of us that it is getting steadily worse?

I have already indicated, in two answers, that the general overall position is improving.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the real problem is a shortage of nurses?

That is a reason why I issued a circular asking hospital authorities to make beds available for this type of case in general hospitals. I have had an interim report on the matter, and there has already been a very large increase in the number of beds.

35.

asked the Minister of Health how many patients are waiting accommodation in tuberculosis hospitals and sanatoria at the most recent date for which figures are available.

Annual returns as at 31st December last showed that the number was then approximately 11,000.

In view of the long waiting lists of people for this kind of treatment, does the right hon. Gentleman feel that any revision in relation to priority of needs within the hospital service is called for and that any solution could be found by making use of beds which exist in Switzerland?

I have already replied that tuberculosis patients have been moved on the priority lists by asking the general hospitals to set aside wards for such patients.

Did not the Minister hear the concluding remarks of my hon. Friend's question, which was that he might give consideration to relieving these heavy lists by making use of the large number of beds available in Switzerland?

I have been prepared to consider it, but, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, currency difficulties are involved.

Yes, but is it not the case that currency difficulties have now existed for a considerable time? In view of the great shortage of beds and the well-known fact that it will not be possible to catch up with these lists in a reasonable time, could there not be some acceleration?

I shall be able to give to the House before very long a report on the progress which has been made in making beds available in this country.

Hearing Aids

13.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is proposing to take to accelerate delivery of a hearing aid to a Surbiton resident, particulars of whom have been sent to him, who has been awaiting delivery of a hearing aid for over a year, and who has been informed that he will not receive it for a further two years.

As the hon. Member has been informed, this patient has no exceptional claim to priority. The service as a whole will be expanded as resources permit.

Does the right hon. Gentleman say that a delay of the nature set out in this Question is normal, or is this gentleman particularly unfortunate?

This citizen has been prevented from obtaining or has been unable to obtain, an aural aid for many years. We have issued 100,000 aural aids, and we are providing them first for individuals who need them urgently on medi- cal grounds, or for the purposes of employment.

Does that answer mean that people of this age must expect to wait three years?

32.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will expedite the delivery of a hearing aid to Mrs. M. McCarthy, 5 Buckingham Avenue, Thornton Heath, who was examined in November, 1948.

Does not the Minister agree that a wait of some two years for the result of an examination is far too long?

It would be very desirable to be able to hand out hearing aids immediately. We have handed out over 100,000 of them, and the limitation now is in skilled personnel to examine the patients.

Male Nurses (Training)

17.

asked the Minister of Health what negotiations he has had with the General Nursing Council to see if the hospital training received by men during their period of service with the Armed Forces can be more fully recognised in attaining qualification as a State registered nurse; and if he will make a statement on the correspondence sent to him on this subject.

This matter has been discussed with the General Nursing Council and the Service Departments at various times. The question of what, if any, remissions of training can be granted is entirely for the General Nursing Council. The list of concessions granted by them is rather long, and I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the concessions:

1. The rules of the General Nursing Council provide:

  • (a) for a remission of six months in the period of training for State registration to members of the Armed Forces who have had not less than two years experience since 3rd September, 1939, in the nursing of the physically sick in hospital under the super- vision of trained nurses. Application must be made within six months of discharge from the Forces. The trainee may take the preliminary examination on the termination of six months' training instead of on completion of one year;
  • (b) for persons who have attained the rank of Nursing Orderly Class I in the Army, or the equivalent rank in the Navy or Royal Air Force and have had not less than two years' experience in the nursing of the physically sick in hospital under the supervision of trained nurses, to be allowed to qualify for registration by a 12 months' intensive course.
  • (c) for men who have undergone a course of not less than three years' nursing instruction in accordance with the syllabus of the Council, in the service of the Admiralty, the Army Council or the Air Council, to be allowed to take the examinations for State registration without further training.
  • 2. Arrangements have been made between the General Nursing Council and the Service Departments to enable nursing orderlies in the Army and equivalent ranks in the other Services, during their period of service, to train for the preliminary examination for State registration in Service hospitals approved by the General Nursing Council.

    Ambulance Service (Cost)

    23.

    asked the Minister of Health to what extent the estimated cost of about £8 million for the Ambulance Service for the current year is likely to be exceeded, and what steps he is taking to ensure greater economy and efficiency in the use of this service.

    I trust it will not be exceeded at all, but I am about to put before the bodies concerned certain suggestions to secure greater economy and efficiency in the use of the Service.

    Will not the Minister agree that there is a certain divided responsibility which makes these matters rather difficult in this respect? Doctors and hospitals order, and the county councils pay.

    There is a certain divided responsibility, but I am not sure at the moment it is leading to additional expense. However, we are making inquiries.

    Hospital Patients (Examination)

    27.

    asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been called to the common practice, in teaching hospitals, for patients to be examined intimately by groups of students, often against the natural inclination of the patients; and if he will issue a general regulation to the effect that the consent of every patient must be obtained before an examination may be performed.

    I am not aware of any general dissatisfaction with the existing arrangements, or of any sufficient reason for suggesting they should be changed. My hon. Friend will realise that it is vital that medical students should have adequate clinical training.

    Is it not also right that the patient should be consulted before his body is employed as a nationalised exhibit?

    That is a very wicked statement to make. It has always been the case that in teaching hospitals medical students must be taught with the clinical material available, that material being human beings. The hon. and gallant Member ought to have a greater sense of public responsibility than to make a statement like that.

    Cortisone

    28.

    asked the Minister of Health when he expects to make general use of cortisone in the hospitals.

    29.

    asked the Minister of Health what is his policy with regard to recommendations by doctors for patients to be treated with cortisone.

    The use of this drug is still experimental, and wider use must depend on greater knowledge.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the extent of the demand for this drug by general practitioners, and will he comment on the case in my constituency to which I have directed his attention?

    I hope that there is no demand for this drug by general practitioners at the moment, because the consequences of taking the drug have not yet been established. Until experiments are concluded, it is not possible to make this drug generally available.

    Is the Minister aware that, in the case to which my hon. and gallant Friend has drawn his attention, three doctors who knew the patient recommended the use of this drug; that one specialist did not recommend its use, and that the right hon. Gentleman took the advice of the specialist and not of the three doctors?

    Is the Minister aware that in one experiment in this country some encouraging results have been obtained? Will he do all he can to obtain further supplies of this drug?

    I am quite ready to obtain further supplies of the material to enable further experiments to be made, but the hon. Member knows that it is far too early to arouse expectations about the use of this drug.

    Hospitals (Private Patients)

    31.

    asked the Minister of Health what are the reasons for the increases for private ward treatment in the Merseyside hospitals, where the costs have increased by 100 per cent. from July, 1948, up to September, 1950.

    Partly owing to increased costs, and partly to the fact that the charge now covers full cost in all cases.

    As the use of private wards must relieve the pressure on public wards, will the Minister consider the possibility of a reduction in the charges for private wards?

    That would really mean that a larger number of people would be able to pay for beds at the expense of others.

    Is the Minister aware that local opinion is that administrative costs are unduly high and that if he inquired into this, he might make a great deal of saving?

    I will certainly make inquiries to see whether that is so in a particular instance, but a proper share of the administrative costs must be set off against the pay beds.

    36.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that patients who, by reason of having to wait many months before they can be admitted to hospital, agree to go in as fee paying patients, are admitted with little delay; that this is a cause of dissatisfaction among other patients awaiting treatment; that in some instances it causes financial hardship; and if he will take steps to end this practice.

    If my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any cases known to him where admission was medically urgent and was refused, I shall be only too glad to look into them.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have sent him particulars of a case where a patient who was waiting for 11 months to go into hospital, because of the long wait became a private patient and was able to enter hospital in less than 11 days?

    If the patient was not suffering from anything requiring urgent medical treatment no problem arises, but he had no right to go into hospital ahead of people in greater medical need.

    But if the patient was not suffering from something requiring urgent medical attention, why could he enter the hospital as a paying patient in under 11 days?

    I quite agree with my hon. Friend about that, and if he will send me particulars I will investigate the matter. I am far from satisfied with the way in which it is possible for doctors to get their private patients into hospitals.

    Part-Time Specialists, London

    39.

    asked the Minister of Health how many part-time specialists in the London area are holding more than nine, and more than 11, sessions weekly, whether with or without pay; and how many of those are engaged in the speciality of psychiatry.

    Disregarding honorary contracts, for which records are not available, about 341 part-time specialists in the Metropolitan area are giving the equivalent of over nine half days, and 79 the equivalent of over 11. The corresponding figures for consultant psychiatrists are three and none.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if—as is true—certain over-zealous practitioners are putting in more than 11 sessions a week, for some of which they are not being paid, they are blocking promotion for those under training and, therefore, doing the profession no good? Will he make arrangements to check this practice?

    Aureomycin

    40.

    asked the Minister of Health how much aureomycin was imported from the United States of America during the nine months period ended 30th September, 1950.

    One hundred and forty thousand and seventy-five grammes, apart from small quantities for sample and trial purposes.

    As I am sure the Minister knows that this is regarded by the medical profession as a life-saving drug in the case of bronchial diseases, how can the Government justify spending millions of dollars on importing tobacco while limiting the import of the drug?

    I would urge hon. Members not always to believe everything they hear about every drug which is produced on the other side of the Atlantic.

    Prescriptions

    44.

    asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the evidence received from the Joint Pricing Committee for England that the average cost of prescriptions per person from 1st January to 30th September, 1949, was 11s. 4½d., he is prepared to review the present dispensing capitation fee paid to doctors who supply medicines to patients on their National Health Service lists.

    No, Sir. The figure quoted and the fee are not comparable. In addition to the fee, pro rata payment is made to the doctors for certain individual items supplied.

    Is there not a great disparity between the capitation fee of 6s. 6d. a week and the average cost of prescriptions at 11s. 4½d.?

    If the hon. Gentleman will look at my reply he will see why the figures are not comparable.

    Doctors' Lists

    78.

    asked the Minister of Health how far under his regulations executive councils, in using their power to bring the excess list of a doctor within the prescribed maximum, allow a margin of 5 per cent. for contingencies.

    This is a matter for the discretion of the executive council in the light of local circumstances.

    Housing

    Waiting List, Thirsk

    4.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that there are about 500 families on the waiting list for houses in the area of Thirsk Rural District Council; that the allocation of 40 houses to be built during the year to 31st December, 1951, is insufficient to enable the council to carry out the housing programme already projected for that year; and what reply he has made to the request of the council that the allocation be increased to 56.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes." The allocation made takes into account the number of prepared sites likely to be available, and the council have been told that if their progress with site preparation so justifies, an application for an additional allocation will be sympathetically considered, although the council failed to take up their full allocation in 1948 and in 1949.

    Does that reply mean, in effect, that they will be allowed to build the 56 houses which they planned for this year?

    It means that as they make progress a further allocation will be considered.

    Improvement Grants, West Riding

    6.

    asked the Minister of Health whether the municipal borough council of Todmorden and the urban district councils of Sowerby Bridge, Elland, and Hebden Royd, respectively, have decided to operate Section 20 of the Housing Act, 1949, concerning improvement grants to persons other than local authorities.

    All the local authorities named have been prepared to consider applications for improvement grants from private persons under Section 20 of the Housing Act, 1949, but I understand that Hebden Royd Urban District Council have now resolved not to entertain any further applications for the time being.

    Brick Prices, Dorset

    7.

    asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that local authorities in Dorset have to pay higher prices for the delivery of bricks by the British Transport Commission than would be the case if they were able to have them delivered by private hauliers; and since this increases the cost of local housing schemes, whether he will make representations to the Transport Commission to have these prices reduced.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is "No, Sir." As regards the second part, if a local authority feel that the British Transport Commission's charges are too high they should take the matter up with the Commission.

    Is the Minister aware that in one village the cost of housing has been put up by £392 as a result of these charges?

    I believe that the particular scheme about which the hon. Member has complained in correspondence has been passed on to the Commission for investigation.

    Emergency Huts

    10.

    asked the Minister of Health how many huts were erected under Circular 134–44, dated 4th October, 1944; how many have been demolished; and how many are still occupied.

    Five thousand three hundred and eighty-nine huts were erected; 1,094 have been demolished, or are in course of demolition; the remainder are still occupied.

    In view of the fact that these huts were described as "emergency temporary accommodation," does not the Minister think it undesirable that they should still be in use after five or six years' occupation?

    We always regarded many of the huts as emergency huts, and I am anxious to see them demolished as soon as possible.

    Rating Of Site Values (Committee)

    11.

    asked the Minister of Health whether the Erskine-Simes Committee on the Rating of Site Values has yet reported.

    33.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he has now received the Report of the Departmental Committee on the Rating of Site Values.

    Does the Minister recall that when I asked him this Question last May he informed me that the Committee were then considering their draft report? Will he now take steps to expedite the report?

    I cannot interfere with the investigations of the Committee. This is an extremely complicated matter, as the Committee is obviously discovering.

    Statistics

    12.

    asked the Minister of Health what was the number of slum dwellings cleared and the number of permanent new units of accommodation built in the five years to the most convenient date in 1939, and the five years to the most convenient date in 1950, respectively.

    As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

    Following is the answer:

    5 years ended 31st March, 1939
    Unfit houses demolished219,697
    Not to be used for human habitiation, or part closed25,575
    Houses completed:
    Local authorities345,404
    Private enterprise1,324,577
    5 years ended 31st March, 1950
    Number of houses demolished is not known.
    Houses completed:
    Local authorities446,178
    Private enterprise and Housing Associations106,469
    Re-built war-destroyed:
    Local authorities8,289
    Private enterprise30,919
    Government Departments8,008
    599,863

    Crown Lands (Small Houses, Rents)

    14.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the hardship imposed on tenants of small houses built on Crown Lans who are not subject to the protection of the Rent Restrictions Acts; and whether he will take steps to give them such protection during the period in which the acute housing shortage continues.

    Yes, Sir. This point has been noted for consideration when the Rent Restrictions Acts are reviewed, and meantime I am prepared to authorise the exercise of requisitioning powers by local authorities in appropriate cases to avoid the creation of hardship.

    Does not the Minister think that it might be possible to introduce legislation this Session? I do not think he will find it controversial on this small point.

    I am happy to hear that an amendment of the Rent Restrictions Acts will not be controversial.

    Building Licences

    15.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he will permit the builder in Tynemouth, whose name has been supplied to him, who has the labour, the material and the land, to build houses for sale to the appropriate local authority in addition to their permitted quota.

    It is for the local authority to decide what arrangements they will make for the building of their houses, and they have given no indication that they wish to enter into the arrangement suggested. The question of an additional allocation does not, therefore, arise.

    In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman emphasised what has been done in his speech during the housing debate, and the fact that he refused the application submitted by the builder to me without consulting the local authority, will he please reconsider this question?

    21.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he requires local authorities to supply his Department with a return of the number of licences issued by them for private house building for sale; and whether his Department take steps to ensure that the licence granted is actually taken up by the person to whom it is issued.

    Local authorities furnish figures of licences issued, and they are published in the Housing Return. On the second part of the Question, I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of Circular 108–50 issued to local authorities on 6th November.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in some instances, where a person to whom a licence has been issued finds that he is unable to take it out, it is handed to the builder for his disposal instead of going back to the local authority?

    79.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he is willing to grant licences, additional to the local authority allocation, to individuals who propose to build their own houses without using any additional labour.

    81.

    asked the Minister of Health why he insists upon building licences in the case of individuals who are ready and anxious to build their own houses, using no labour beyond that of their own hands and no licensed building materials.

    A licence for the erection of a new house by a private person is required under Defence Regulation 56A. All licences issued by local authorities must come out of the total allocations made to them. I know of no scheme under which a concession of the kind desired by the hon. Members could be made which would not be liable to extensive abuse. I am willing to consider any suggestions which the hon. Members may wish to make.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is reported that a scheme was produced by the British Legion whereby houses were built by members and were in addition to the local authority houses? If that is the case could that be extended to individuals?

    The argument arises as to whether these houses could be additional to the housing programme. If they could be made additional then the housing programme could be extended to that extent. We have had these schemes before and they have been very largely abused.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the scheme operating in Sweden where a Socialist Government encourages this sort of thing and Socialist councils employ clerks of works to help people who want to build their own houses?

    I am willing to consider suggestions whereby houses can be built under supervision, but that is not the Question on the Order Paper.

    Bricks, Louth (Supply)

    16.

    asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that, although the Louth Rural District Council allocated a contract for the building of houses at Tetney in May this year, the contractor has so far been unable to obtain bricks to make a start; and if he will give absolute priority to housing on all brick production.

    The necessary bricks have now been obtained. As regards the second part of the Question, general arrangements already exist to deal with any difficulties in supplies that may arise.

    Is the Minister aware that the bricks were put on the site three days after I put down my Question? Can he assure me that, as far as North Lincolnshire is concerned, the housing programme will not be held up through a lack of bricks?

    If there is any connection between the Question appearing on the Order Paper and delivery of the bricks, it reveals the efficacy of the House of Commons, but in so far as the bricks were not ordered earlier, it reveals the inefficiency of the private enterprise contractor.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman say how long the bricks were on order?

    I do not know. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is not my business to be a shadow for every incompetent building contractor.

    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

    26.

    asked the Minister of Health what approaches have been made by the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to his Department with regard to an increased allocation of houses for the city; and whether he will make a statement.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is "None." As regards the second part the allocation for 1951 takes account of the large number of houses in the 1950 allocation which have not been started. The matter will be subject to review in the light of the progress made next year.

    Is it correct to say that the Newcastle allocation for housing in 1951 is 1,000, which is the same as for those on the city housing list last year, and that when the council is able to complete round about 1,000 houses in one year, the figure will be reviewed?

    I must not tie myself to a figure, but I have said that when they make progress with their allocation a further allocation will be made.

    Alcester House, Shaftesbury

    30.

    asked the Minister of Health when his Department sold Alcester House; and what was the price.

    I gave consent on 1st August to the sale of this property by the Dorset County Council. It has not yet been sold.

    In that case, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman why his Parliamentary Secretary told me last Monday that it was sold?

    Non-Residential Accommodation

    38.

    asked the Minister of Health if he will examine the regulations and practice whereby living accommodation is transferred into offices and used for other non-residential purposes; and if he will take steps to stop this substantial drain on available residential accommodation.

    I am satisfied that Defence Regulation 68CA is effectively used to contend the diversion of housing accommodation to other purposes.

    Old Persons' Dwellings

    41.

    asked the Minister of Health how many old persons dwellings are under construction; and how many have been completed in the post-war housing programme.

    No separate record is kept of housing accommodation provided specifically for old persons.

    Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that many houses are inhabited by one old person living alone and that the houses become a burden to such old people, who would be glad to move to a smaller house? Will he use his powers of persuasion with local authorities to build a fair proportion of special old persons' dwellings, and thus set free a number of family-size dwellings with the use of comparatively small quantities of material?

    If my hon. Friend will look at HANSARD he will see that last week I gave an answer about the number of houses of this type which have been constructed. Also, last year I issued a circular to local authorities calling attention to the facts which the Opposition have only just now discovered.

    In view of this remarkable appearance of a Daniel come to judgment, will the Minister have another look at his figures and, in particular, the very low percentage of the small houses which he gives as against the much larger percentage for the larger houses?

    If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will consult his friends who serve on the Central Housing Advisory Committee, he will discover that this matter has been before us for some time and that the local authorities have been urged to give special attention to it.

    In view of the Minister's well-known power of invective in matters in which he is interested, will he apply some of it to the speeding up of this desirable reform?

    We have speeded it up, and the number of houses in this class is rapidly rising.

    Dwelling-Houses (Valuation)

    42.

    asked the Minister of Health what progress he has made towards implementing the central valuation provisions of the Local Government Act, 1948, as regards dwelling-houses.

    Following the transfer on 1st February this year of the work of rating valuation to valuation officers of Inland Revenue, an effective start has been made with the task of measuring dwelling-houses for the purpose of the new valuation lists to come into force in 1952 or 1953. I have issued the statements of hypothetical 1938 costs of construction which had to be prepared for each rating area, and copies are obtainable at the offices of rating authorities. The statements of 1938 site costs are being prepared and will be issued when they are ready.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statements to which he has referred allow two modern houses of exactly the same size and not very different construction to be given 1938 hypothetical building costs of anything from £600 to £1,200? Will he say how, in those circumstances, we can have uniformity of valuation?

    If the hon. Gentleman will put that question on the Order Paper, I will try to give him an answer.

    Nottingham

    77.

    asked the Minister of Health to what degree the City of Nottingham has succeeded in completing its allocation of house building for the last 12 months.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply on housing allocations given to the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden), on 9th November, of which I am sending him a copy. As stated in that reply, information as to local progress is available in the published Housing Returns.

    Local Authorities (Retrospective Payments)

    22.

    asked the Minister of Health whether he will take steps to stop the growing tendency for Government grants, wages awards and other settlements to be made retrospective for long periods, as such action makes accurate estimating and rate-raising by local authorities impossible.

    If the hon. Member will let me know the particular instances he has in mind, I will have them looked into.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that, apart from the convenience to local authorities, there is an old saying, "Bis dat qui cito dat," which, I am told by technical advisers, is relevant to this problem?

    Perhaps the hon. Member will take me aside afterwards and translate that. It is always undesirable for wage negotiations to last so long that retrospective demands accumulate.

    Power Station, Battersea

    43.

    asked the Minister of Health what report the chief alkali inspector made on the pollution of the atmosphere by gases from the British Electricity Authority's generation station at Battersea after his last visit.

    The report pointed out certain shortcomings, which I understand have since been rectified.

    United Nations (International Force)

    45.

    asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the new situation arising from the fact that the United Nations organisation is now engaged in military operations and is contemplating setting up an international force to put down aggression and save peace by military means, His Majesty's Government will consider limiting the British quota of that international force to men volunteering to serve under the flag of the United Nations.

    No, Sir. The relevant clause of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 3rd November, to which I presume my hon. Friend refers, recommends each member state to maintain within its national armed forces elements so trained, organised and equipped that they could be made available promptly in response to a recommendation of the General Assembly or the Security Council. I do not consider that a limitation of the composition of such elements to volunteers would be either practicable or desirable.

    Is not my right hon. Friend aware that some of the countries attached to the United Nations have already accepted the principles set forth in my Question? Will he reconsider the matter?

    Does not the Prime Minister agree that the number of volunteers for Korea was negligible, and will he consider limiting our foreign commitments to those who are prepared to join up?

    Festival Of Britain

    Amusement Equipment

    46.

    asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will give an assurance that every effort is being made to obtain British amusement devices and machinery for use in connection with the South Bank Exhibition of the Festival of Britain before having recourse to foreign sources of supply.

    There will be no amusement devices in the South Bank Exhibition. Mechanical exhibits or displays will all be British made.

    Has the Lord President studied the details which I sent him of fun fair equipment made in Congleton by a firm which exports it to the United States?

    Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the statement in today's "Daily Herald" that men are proceeding abroad to buy amusement machinery never before seen in Europe? Can he say why he thinks that Coney Island equipment is suitable for a Festival of Britain and will attract Americans to these shores?

    I appreciate the anxiety of some hon. Gentlemen opposite to do all they can to damage the Festival of Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I said "some"—but this Question does not arise out of the Question on the Order Paper.

    Housing, London

    50.

    asked the Lord President of the Council how many housing units have been lost in London to make way for the Festival of Britain.

    The Festival of Britain has not involved any direct or calculable loss of housing units in London or elsewhere. At Lansbury, where the Festival of Britain is holding its Exhibition of Architecture, 444 new housing units will have been built by September, 1951.

    Will my right hon. Friend say whether, in view of the hostility shown by the Opposition to the Festival of Britain, he can still count upon their co-operation to make it a success?

    The purpose of Questions is not to express a particular point of view, which is what the hon. Member is doing, I think.

    While there is no hostility whatsoever—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—is the Lord President aware of the very great resentment felt in the country that dollars which could provide timber for 300 houses are being allocated for the purpose of buying amusement machinery?

    I do not know how that question arises; it has nothing to do with the Question on the Order Paper.

    Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Opposition are for or against the Festival?

    Press Council

    47.

    asked the Lord President of the Council what steps are now being taken to set up a Press Council as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Press.

    I am sorry to say that I have little further to report to the House. I was recently informed by the Secretary of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association that he was not at present in a position to state when any definitive result would be forthcoming from the discussions between the Newspaper Proprietors' Association and the Newspaper Society regarding the setting up of a Press Council. He explained that the draft proposals which were under examination by the two bodies at the time of my answer to Questions on 9th March had not received general support in the discussions and that, in an endeavour to reconcile the divergent views in both organisations, another committee had been formed for the purpose of preparing an alternative scheme.

    Hon. Members will recall that in June, 1949, the Royal Commission recommended that a General Council of the Press should be established by the Press itself, and that on 28th July, 1949, the House unanimously approved a Motion to the effect that it would welcome all possible action on the part of the Press to give effect to the Commission's conclusions and recommendations.

    The Government naturally assumed that, in these circumstances, the newspaper proprietors would think it right, in consultation with representatives of editors and other journalists, to give urgent consideration to the report of the Royal Commission with a view to the early formulation of agreed proposals for action. I trust that I shall be speaking for all sections of the House when I say that, in view of the unanimous Motion which the House approved nearly 18 months ago, it does not seem to me that the proprietors have acted with the full sense of urgency which Parliament was entitled to expect of them. I hope, however, that they will not keep the House and the public waiting much longer.

    While supporting very strongly what my right hon. Friend has just said, may I ask him if he will also consider pointing out to the N.P.A. that it would have been an advantage if this Council had been in existence to investigate, for instance, the recent dismissal of the editor of "Picture Post" for daring to try to print a factual report on the brutal treatment of prisoners in Korea?

    The hon. Member seems to be putting forward a particular point of view. That is not the object of Questions, the purpose of which is to ask for information only.

    On a point of order. I am asking my right hon. Friend if he would point something out to the N.P.A. Surely that arises out of this Question.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Press Council or the Labour Party will be responsible for roving correspondents?

    Domestic Heating (Research)

    48.

    asked the Lord President of the Council whether he is now in a position to give, from the facts obtained by the Building Research Centre, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the analysis of the results of research as to the over-all percentage of efficiency of heat from the raw coal delivered to a house with a flue wholly within the house for coal, for gas and coke and electricity, all with modern appliances.

    I regret that I am unable to give this analysis at the moment, but I hope to be able to write to the hon. Member shortly.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say when that information will be available and whether it will be generally published?

    I will consider that last point and will get the information as soon as I can. I do not think that it will take long.

    Questions To Ministers

    49.

    asked the Lord President of the Council whether he is aware that on the last 24 Sitting days, ending on Thursday, 9th November, on which Questions were answered orally, the Ministry of Health was only reached once, the Admiralty, the Ministry of Education and Postmaster-General twice, the Air Ministry and Commonwealth Relations Office three times; whether he knows that of 44 Questions put to the Treasury for oral answer in the present Session up to and including 9th November not one was reached; and whether he will ask the House to increase the time allotted to Questions.

    I am aware of the difficulty to which the hon. Member refers, but I do not think that an increase in the time allotted to Questions would be desirable. As you, Sir, have explained, right hon. and hon. Members can either put many Questions and few supplementaries or few Questions and many supplementaries. I think that this difficulty would be overcome if right hon. and hon. Members were to follow your advice and ask fewer supplementaries.

    Is the Leader of the House aware that again on Tuesday of this week the Questions to the Treasury were not reached, so that altogether, during the present Session, out of 81 Questions which have been put to the Treasury for oral answer, not one has been reached? Is the right hon. Gentleman not under an obligation to seek a remedy for this enforced silence of hon. Members who wish to question one of the most important Departments?

    I will keep that point in mind. It depends, of course, partly upon how many Questions are put down to the Minister who precedes the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    Would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether a 15-minute extension might be given when the Departments of State whose names are printed in black on the Order of Questions are not reached?

    No, Sir. This is really within the control of the House and I am sure that if we extended the time and thereby curtailed debates, we should have trouble the other way. In my earlier years in the House, somehow we used to get through the Questions on the Order Paper and have a second calling.

    Does my right hon. Friend agree that even if he accepted the suggestion of adding 15 or any other number of minutes to the time allotted to Questions, that would afford no guarantee that the Questions to any particular Minister would be reached?

    As the co-operation of back benchers has been requested by Mr. Speaker, will the Lord President consider communicating with his Front Bench colleagues so that they, In turn, may curtail their answers, which in some cases are inordinately long?

    I will keep that point in mind, remembering, also, the Question which I answered just now.

    Privy Council Appeals

    51.

    asked the Lord President of the Council from which Dominions appeals may now be made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

    Appeals lie to His Majesty in Council from Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon, and also from Canada from judgments pronounced in judicial proceedings that commenced before 23rd December, 1949.

    Agriculture

    Wool Prices

    52.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what was the average price received by his Department for Dorset down wool and Dorset horn wool on the resale of the 1949 wool clip.

    The average prices per lb. received for Dorset down wool and Dorset horn wool on the sale of the 1949 wool clip were 65½d. and 59d., respectively, for washed wool and 46½d and 49d., respectively, for greasy wool.

    In view of the profits to the Government which this shows, will the Minister consider taking steps to return a fair and adequate share to the producer?

    The hon. Member must be aware that the price to producers is a guaranteed price. It is not necessarily based upon market demand, but is based upon the cost of production. It also isolates the farmers from wide fluctuations.

    Rabbits

    53.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture the percentage of supply to demand of cymag for the destruction of rabbits, as at 30th September, 1950.

    I am informed by the manufacturers that of the orders received during the year ended 30th September, 1950, 94.8 per cent, had been delivered on that date.

    As it is admitted that rabbits are a menace to farmers, would the right hon. Gentleman not give greater support or encouragement to manufacturers to manufacture this fairly humane method of their destruction?

    I understand that the demand for the 1950 summer was double that of 1949, so that the manufacturers have increased their output enormously.

    Publications Salesmen, West Midlands

    54.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture the cost per annum to his Department of the two men who were selling official publications in the Kidderminster Cattle Market on 10th October, 1950; how many such salesmen are employed in the West Midlands; and the total cost per annum.

    The two men referred to are the only persons employed in the West Midlands on the sale and distribution of the Ministry's technical publications to farmers. They operate in six counties and the average total cost per annum is about £1,400 for salaries, travelling and subsistence.

    Does the Minister realise that all these technical publications are in any case available from any reputable stationer or newsagent? In these circumstances is it necessary to continue the employment of these commercial travellers?

    Were it not necessary, we should not employ them. It is the fact, however, that we are very anxious that technical documents should be placed in the hands of farmers, whom we are asking to increase the output of agricultural produce by 1952 by £100 million over 1938.

    Can the right hon. Gentleman say why it is necessary to have two men to do this work? Would not one do it equally well?

    Could not the Minister get the National Farmers' Union to do the work for him for nothing?

    Brisley Green (Cultivation)

    55.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what action he proposes to take in view of the correspondence sent to him from Brisley Parish Council regarding the future cultivation of Brisley Green.

    As my hon. Friend is aware, part of Brisley Green, which has been cultivated under emergency powers, will be derequisitioned in 1951. Since this is common land, it can, after that date, only be used for the purpose of the common rights which exist over it, and cultivation will not be possible unless those concerned take steps under existing common legislation to extinguish the common rights. Suggestions as to possible action by the local interests were included in my letter of 11th November to my hon. Friend.

    If the parish council take the appropriate steps under the Law of Property Act, 1925, to enable this common to continue under cultivation, will my right hon. Friend give them his approval?

    Rams (Designated Land)

    57 and 58.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) if he will amend the Ram Control Regulations, 1950, so that the blackface rams are not prohibited from being on designated land until 1st October;

    (2) why, under the Ram Control Regulations, 1950, blackface rams are prohibited from being on designated land from 16th January until the end of March.