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Written Answers

Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 29 November 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 29th November, 1950

African Territories (School Curricula)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how far the curricula of schools in territory over which we exercise trusteeship include instruction on the United Nations' publications dealing with human rights.

Although in general existing publications do not tend themselves to formal inclusion in school curricula in Africa, they are, in suitable cases, used to supplement the general instruction on human rights which is carried on in schools and training colleges in the territories concerned.

Royal Navy

Courts Martial (Report)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when it is intended to publish the Report of the Committee on Courts Martial in the Royal Navy.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when he received the Report of the Pilcher Committee; and when he proposes to publish it.

The First Report of the Naval Courts Martial Committee was received on 21st February, 1950. It will be published as a Command Paper on Monday next.

Dockyard (Skilled Craftsmen)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware of the shortage of skilled craftsmen in His Majesty's Dockyard at Portsmouth; and what steps he is taking to remedy the position.

Yes. The numbers and grades of skilled craftsmen required in all His Majesty's Dockyards have been notified to the Ministry of Labour and National Service and the vacancies accorded first preference. Action has also been taken to stimulate the recruitment of craft apprentices.

Building And Repair Work


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many persons in the Royal Navy are at present employed on building and repair work in Great Britain and overseas.

I assume that the question relates to civilian building workers employed on building and repair work for the Naval Service. During October, 1950, the number of civilian building workers so employed was approximately 8,170 in Great Britain, 190 in Northern Ireland and 5,930 overseas.

Yardcraft Officers (Salaries)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he can now give the date on which the new salary scales for yardcraft officers will be announced; and how far they will be retrospective.

The new salary scales for yardcraft officers have now been published in Admiralty Fleet Orders. They are retrospective to 6th January, 1947.

Hms "Cottesmore" (Transfer To Egypt)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will now cancel the proposed transfer to the Royal Egyptian Navy of the frigate H.M.S. "Cottesmore." capable of 27½ knots.

H.E.M.S. "Ibrahim El-Awal," formerly H.M.S. "Cottesmore," was transferred to the Royal Egyptian Navy last July.

Surplus Ships (Sale)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether, in view of the gravity of the international situation, he will give an assurance that no destroyers and no more frigates will be sold to any foreign country outside the Atlantic Treaty Powers.

As was made clear by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 20th November, the sale of surplus ships of the Royal Navy to foreign countries is always subject to the prior needs of other Commonwealth countries or of North Atlantic Treaty Powers.

Aircraft Carriers


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what steps he proposes to take to increase the operational strength of aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy.

Two fleet carriers will become operational in 1951. One of them will be H.M.S. "Eagle," our newest and most powerful ship in this Class. In addition, there will be a carrier employed in trials and training which would be immediately available in an emergency. The long-term building programme provides for one fleet carrier, H.M.S. "Ark Royal," and four light fleet carriers. The number in commission at any one time will, of course, depend on circumstances.

Post Office

Services' Air Mails, Far East


asked the Postmaster-General whether he is now in a position to make a statement about the reduction of Service air mail charges to the Far East.

The Services' air mails to the Far East are already uneconomic, and it has not been found possible to make any further reductions in postage rates.

Postmen, Birmingham


asked the Postmaster-General how much has been spent on advertising for postmen in Birmingham during the past year; how many vacancies have been filled; and how many still exist.

About £645. During the year, 132 vacancies (on an establishment of nearly 2,400 postmen) were filled on a permanent basis, 199 by staff under consideration for permanent appointment, and 238 by temporary staff. 156 vacancies are at present unfilled.

Motor Engineers (Discussions)


asked the Postmaster-General what has been the outcome of the talks with the National Guild of Post Office Motor Engineers.

Following joint discussion on 20th October, the National Guild of Motor Engineers has informed my right hon. Friend that it cannot agree to the proposals he had placed before them.

Pillar Boxes (Design)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will consider a design for pillar boxes similar to the pattern in Denmark, with two slots for posting letters, one facing the footpath and one facing the roadway, so that letters can easily be posted from cycles and motor cars.

Inquiries are being made of the Danish Postal Administration with regard to this type of pillar box and I will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

Television Reception, Leeds


asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the interference suffered in reception by television users in Leeds; and whether he will take steps to have this fault corrected.

Yes. Four outstanding cases are under investigation. Leeds is well outside the range at which consistently reliable reception can be expected from either of the existing television stations and conditions should be greatly improved when the B.B.C.'s Holme Moss transmitter has been brought into service.

Telephone Service

West Ham


asked the Postmaster-General the number of applicants for telephone service in the county borough of West Ham at the latest available date, together with the number of new subscribers who have been supplied with a telephone service in this borough since the end of the last war.

On 30th September, 1950, there were 4,499 applications outstanding at the three main exchanges serving the borough. Six thousand three hundred and seventy-seven new subscribers have been connected to these exchanges since August, 1945.

Interruptions (Rental Rebate)


asked the Postmaster-General for how long must a telephone subscriber experience interruption of service before he may claim a rebate of rental.

The rental for telephone service leaves no margin for any general rebate for interruptions, but telephone managers have authority to meet individual requests for rebate where the break is prolonged. The minimum period for consideration would depend on the nature and cause of the interruption.

Change Of Address


asked the Postmaster-General if he will allow a telephone subscriber to retain use of the service when he is compelled to change his residence on medical grounds.

Where a house with a telephone becomes vacant, the new occupier, if a removing subscriber, is given preference over all new applicants for whom the line could be used to give service. He is given a further measure of preference over other removing subscribers in case of serious illness, where it is vital to have a telephone in the house.

Addingham Exchange


asked the Postmaster-General what steps he is taking to improve the telephone service in the Adding-ham district of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

So far as my right hon. Friend is aware, the service at Addingham Exchange is quite satisfactory. Extension of the exchange and local cable system is planned, but it not yet known when the work is likely to be completed.


asked the Postmaster-General the number of applicants in the Cheltenham area who are on the priority list for telephones; and the number who are on the non-priority list.

Broadcasting (Capital Development)


asked the Postmaster-General what sum is the British Broadcasting Corporation permitted to expend on capital development in the years 1951, 1952 and 1953, in accordance with the limits on capital expenditure laid down by the Government.

This information will be given in due course in the Economic Surveys for these years.

Royal Air Force

Fighter Defences, Western Europe


asked the Secretary of State for Air what contribution this country is making to the extension of radio and radar fighter control systems in Western Europe.

Officers of the Royal Air Force and the Army are playing an important part, under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, Air Forces Western Europe, in the planning and building up of the fighter defences of Western Europe. All ground radar stations required under present plans, and much of the associated radio and other forms of communication, are being supplied by this country.

Auxiliary Transport Squadrons


asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the Government's policy for the formation of auxiliary transport squadrons; and what will be the duties of these squadrons in peace.

The object of this scheme is to recruit aircrews and ground staffs of the larger charter companies into squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force so that in emergency the squadrons will be able to reinforce the regular transport forces of the R.A.F. In peace-time the squadrons will be trained in the military air transport role and in general air force subjects.

Building And Repair Work


asked the Secretary of State for Air how many persons in the Royal Air Force are at present employed on building and repair work in Great Britain and overseas.

The approximate numbers employed on R.A.F. building and repair work are: R.A.F. personnel, 120 at home and 30 overseas; Air Ministry civilians, 300 at home; civilians employed by contractors on Air Ministry work, 11,360 at home. The number of civilians employed overseas is not available.

Druridge Bay


asked the Secretary of State for Air why it is essential for Service training to take over Druridge Bay for bombing practice; and whether every other potential site has been investigated.

I have already received representations on this matter from my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) and have been giving the question my personal consideration. No decision has been reached to take over Druridge Bay for live bombing practice. In arriving at a decision every other potential site will, of course, be investigated.

Middle East Area


asked the Secretary of State for Air the boundaries of the Middle East area for the purpose of the establishment of local civilian employees as civil servants under his Department.

The Middle East area for this purpose includes Egypt, Sudan, Aden, Kenya, Tripolitania, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Persian Gulf stations and Mauripur.

Ice Blocks, Exmoor And Wandsworth


asked the Secretary of State for Air what has been the result of his investigations into the physical and chemical properties of the numerous blocks of ice discovered on 9th November upon Exmoor and of a block falling upon a building at Wandsworth on 24th November; and if he will make a statement.

The blocks of ice which fell on Exmoor on 9th November were not preserved and there was no opportunity for examination by experts. Part of the block which fell at Wandsworth was examined on the following day at Putney police station by an officer from the Meteorological Office. His conclusion was that the block was not hail, and its shape and texture suggested that it had probably been formed against a smooth and relatively flat object. The meteorological conditions prevailing at the times of both the Exmoor and Wandsworth incidents were not such that hail could have been formed, and in these circumstances it is possible that the ice in question came from an aircraft. Investigations are continuing on this aspect.

Flight-Lieutenant Driver (Wife's Journey)


asked the Secretary of State for Air why in view of the exceptional circumstances, it was not found possible to arrange for the wife of Flight-Lieutenant John Driver to travel back to England with him in a Royal Air Force plane after his three months internment by the Russians.

My information is that Mrs. Driver possessed a B.E.A. ticket from Buckeburg to Northolt and was booked to travel on Sunday. Arrangements were made for Flight-Lieutenant Driver to travel by R.A.F. scheduled service on the same day. The two aircraft were due to arrive at Northolt within two hours of each other. Owing to adverse flying weather, husband and wife travelled back together by train and boat. The cost of Mrs. Driver's journey will be defrayed from Air Votes.

Troops, Korea (Winter Clothing)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether adequate warm clothing has now reached all British units serving with the United Nations forces in North Korea.

Ministry Of Supply

Brabazon Aircraft


asked the Minister of Supply to what use he is going to put the Brabazon I; and if he will consider sending it on a world tour in connection with the Festival of Britain next year.

The Brabazon I is for experimental use. A world tour next year will not be practicable, but I hope that some demonstration flights, including flights over neighbouring countries, will be made as part of the development and testing programme.

Airfields (Fog Dispersal)


asked the Minister of Supply whether he has investigated possible economies in operating the Fog Investigation Dispersal Operations system, for example, by only lighting the up-wind row of burners and by progressively cutting out alternate burners once fog clearance has been achieved.

It is a standard technique to light only one row of burners when there is a cross-wind. We hope to reduce fuel consumption by perfecting a variable output burner, which is a better technical solution than cutting out alternate burners.

Overseas Forces (Tobacco)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he does not allow small packets of cigarettes and tobacco to be sent by relatives to members of the Forces serving overseas duty free, as was done during the war.

In present circumstances I see no reason to reintroduce this wartime concession.


Personnel, Wales

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many workers and officers have been recruited in Wales since 1945 for the Forestry Commission; and how many have been transferred from outside into Wales.

One thousand, seven hundred and ten workers have been recruited in Wales since 1945; no workers have been transferred by the Commission from outside into Wales. Seventy district officers, foresters and foremen have been recruited in Wales since 1945, and in addition 14 have been transferred from outside into the country.

Re-Afforestation, Wales

asked the Minister of Agriculture what acreage of derelict woodlands have been re-afforested since 1945 to date; and what are the plans for the next five years in each of the Welsh counties.

Eight thousand, eight hundred acres of derelict woodlands in Wales have been re-afforested since 1945 (6,400 acres by the Forestry Commission and 2,400 acres by private owners). In addition, 9,820 acres have been acquired by the Commission for replanting. According to the census of woodlands recently completed there were, at 30th September, 1947, some 70,000 acres of scrub, devastated and felled woodlands in Wales and Monmouth which are suitable for economic management, distributed as follows:

The Forestry Commissioners' policy in all counties is to encourage private owners to replant these areas under the Dedication Scheme, or with the aid of grants, during the next five years. Where this is not possible acquisition and replanting by the Commission is proposed.

Forestry School, Gwydyr

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many trainees have passed through the Forestry School, Gwydyr, since its inception; and what percentage of these have taken up employment in Wales giving their present positions.

Ninety-five students have passed through the school since its opening. Of these 52, or 55 per cent., took up employment with the Forestry Commission in Wales, and 39 are still in their employment in Wales in the following positions: foresters, 11; foremen, 18; gangers, 10;—total, 39. Twenty-three are employed by the Commission outside Wales. I have no information on the number of ex-students employed privately in Wales.

Poultry Feedingstuffs

asked the Minister of Agriculture by how much the cost of feedingstuffs for turkeys and poultry has increased since 1st January, 1950.

The cost of feeding-stuffs for table poultry and turkeys varies very much from farm to farm according to the differing proportions of homegrown to purchased foods. The average cost of purchased poultry foods has increased from about 28s. per cwt. in January, 1950, to 32s. per cwt. now.

Armed Forces

Medical And Dental Officers (Pay)

asked the Minister of Defence whether he can now make a statement on the emoluments of medical and dental officers in the Services.

Rank (Only Army ranks shown)IncreasesNew Rates
Medical OfficersDental Officers
After 2 years4682356648326593
After 3 years70128380694350639
After 4 years70128410748380694
After 6 years70128440803410748
After 2 years70128530967500913
After 4 years701285601,022530967
After 6 years701285901,0775601,022
After 2 years801466901,2596601,205
After 4 years801467201,3146901,259
After 6 years801467501,3697201,314
After 8 years801467801,4247501,369
After 2 years1001838801,6068501,551
After 4 years1001839101,6618801,606
After 6 years1001839401,7169101,661
Royal NavyArmy
IncreaseNew Daily RatesIncreaseNew Daily Rates
Graded Specialist5s.4s.
Full Specialist3s. a day8s.4s. a day8s.

Aircraft (Syria)


asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware that 14 aircraft bought by the Syrian Govern-

Increases in pay have been approved for medical and dental officers of the three Services. In addition there will be increases in specialist pay for medical and dental specialists in the Royal Navy and Army; in the Royal Air Force specialist qualifications will continue to be recognised by a system of accelerated promotion. The increased rates will not apply to National Service officers until they have completed 18 months' whole-time service. The increases and new rates which will take effect from 1st September, 1950, are as follow:ment in this country have not been delivered, although the contract was placed a long time ago and the planes are finished; and whether steps will be taken to have them now released.

Only two of these aircraft are finished, and the remainder are still under construction. In view of the changed circumstances resulting from the increased armament needs of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and N.A.T.O. Powers, it will not be possible to authorise delivery of these aircraft in present conditions.

Drive Bridge, Hove

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the unsafe condition of the Drive Bridge, Hove; why he proposes to limit this bridge to 3 tons burden; and whether, in view of the importance of the roadway which is carried over the railway at this point, he will instead carry out the necessary works to allow this bridge to carry greater weights.

I am aware that the bridge is unsuitable for heavy traffic and it is for this reason that I have agreed to confirm the order made by the Hove Town Council restricting its use to vehicles weighing not more than 3 tons. I understand that the highway authorities concerned are preparing a scheme for the reconstruction of the bridge in cooperation with the Railway Executive.

Austrian Loan (Italian Obligations)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a further statement about the discussions in the Anglo-Italian Economic Committee concerning the Italian Government's obligations in respect of the Austrian 4½ per cent. Guaranteed Loan.

I am glad to be able to inform the House that the Italian Government has intimated that they will meet their obligations as regards interest payments due in respect of the Austrian 4½ per cent. Guaranteed Loan on 1st December, 1950, on the same basis as formerly. In addition, the Italian Government have expressed the wish that the whole question of their position as guarantors of the Loan should be examined again at the next meeting of the Anglo-Italian Economic Committee, which is due to be held in Rome in December, with a view to a final solution being reached.