House Of Commons
Thursday, 30th November, 1950
The House met at Half past Two o'Clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Oral Answers To Questions
1944 Act (Operation)
asked the Minister of Education when he intends to put into operation Part III of the Education Act, 1944.
It is my intention that Part III of the Education Act, 1944, should be brought into operation as soon as I can be sure that it can be effectively implemented. This will not be possible until the country's building position and the supply of teachers, particularly of women teachers, have improved to a sufficient extent to enable schools to remedy, within the period of time which would have to be specified under Section 71 (1) of the Act, whatever shortcomings in premises and staffing might be found.
Can my right hon. Friend say what action it is now competent for a local authority to take if His Majesty's Inspector's report on a particular independent school states that it is housed in totally unsuitable premises, and staffed by unqualified teachers?
The local authority can prosecute the parents for not providing education for the children suitable to their age and ability, as laid down in the Act.
Grammar School Places
asked the Minister of Education what steps he intends to take to see that local education authorities whose percentage of grammar school places is low make efforts to increase the percentage.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Grey), on 13th November.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the duty has been laid upon him by the Education Act of 1944 to ensure that there shall be a varied and comprehensive system of education in every local authority area? How can it be varied and comprehensive if there are not sufficient grammar school places?
It is also laid upon me to see that there are sufficient places for all children between the ages of five to 15 and the amount of building required to meet the increasing bulge in the age group makes it absolutely impossible to provide secondary schools and primary schools at the same time. As a consequence, 80 per cent. of the school building has to be in primary schools and to make up the difference required to give everyone the type of education required will need a great deal more expenditure in years to come.
School Building Programme
asked the Minister of Education whether places will be available for all the children of school age in 1953.
On present plans, the school building programme will provide in total the number of places required for children of statutory school age in 1953, but I can give no guarantee that there will not be temporary local shortages.
Does not that answer conflict very considerably with the speech the Minister recently made at Bristol, where he expressed great anxiety that throughout the country this target would not be met?
I do not remember making a speech recently in Bristol. I certainly have not given any figures anywhere in contradiction of this answer. What I did say somewhere, whether it was Bristol or not I do not know, was that in order that these figures should be met it was necessary that the local education authorities should get on with the programme.
School Meals And Milk
asked the Minister of Education the number in receipt of, and the cost of, free meals, free milk, cheap meals and cheap milk, in schools at the outbreak of the last war, and to the latest convenient date.
As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
In view of the difficulties which have existed since the war, is it not fortunate that provision was made by legislation for all these matters by a Conservative Government before the war?
I only wish that more provision had been made by any sort of Government. It is the implementation that matters, not the legislation.Following is the answer:
|No. of pupils in grant aided schools receiving:—|
|1. Free midday meals||111,000||(a)||310,000||(b)|
|2. Midday meals on payment||50,000||(a)||2,540,000||(b)|
|3. Free milk||560,000||4,700,000||(b)|
|4. Milk on payment||1,940,000||Nil|
|Cost to public funds in:—|
|Meals and Milk (1 to 4 above)||£1·47 million (c)|
|(i) Meals (1 and 2 above)||£27 million|
|(ii) Milk (3 above)||£6·6 million|
asked the Minister of Education what progress has been made to secure a supply of school milk to the 14 schools in Norfolk that have been without a supply during this term.
A milk supply has been arranged for four of the 14 schools and every effort is still being made to find a supplier for the remaining 10.
Is it not rather strange that in a county which is producing far more milk than ever before, and is sending it to other parts of the country, children in schools there should be without a supply of milk for no other reason than that there is not a supply in the immediate neighbourhood but there is a supply available further away?
These children have had milk previously, and I am given to understand that the supplier has given up delivery and that the difficulty is one of obtaining a supplier at the price which is normally paid. The question of the price paid is a matter for the Ministry of Food.
Could the Minister say whether the difficulty arises out of the recent changes made in milk distributing margins by the Minister of Food?
No, I do not think so, but it is a question of the amount paid to the supplier for the milk.
Surely this matter could have been settled before now in view of the fact that it has been known about since last July. That is surely time enough to produce a better result than 4 out of 14.
It is strange that this difficulty should have arisen in only 10 schools out of the total number of schools in Norfolk. It seems to me that in this matter there is some reason in addition to that suggested.
asked the Minister of Education how far it is the policy of his Department to encourage local education authorities to lend film strips to independent and private schools.
I think this is a matter which is best left to the discretion of local education authorities. I understand, however, that it is the general practice for schools of all kinds to build up their own libraries of film strips for use in teaching.
Since the parents of children who are at independent or private schools help to pay for education in this country, surely the children at those schools should have the right to the film strips which are available in the hands of the local education authority? Will not the Minister make that clear to those local authorities which refuse?
There is no objection whatever to these strips being used in any kind of school when they are available, but I would point out that it is customary for schools themselves to own and purchase their films.
School Children (Foot Comfort)
asked the Minister of Education whether there has been a recent survey on foot comfort among school children; and with what result.
The importance of giving attention to the condition of children's feet at the time of medical inspection is increasingly recognised by local education authorities. Several have carried out special surveys in recent years. These have suggested that many foot defects are due to ill-fitting or otherwise unsatisfactory footwear.
Can the Minister say whether it is possible for him to impress upon authorities and parents the great need there is for stronger boots for children?
It is a question not of stronger boots but of correctly fitting boots. Education in this matter is needed among parents as well as children.
Schools, Norfolk (Dental Treatment)
asked the Minister of Education how many school dentists have been at work in Norfolk this term; and what proportion of the pupils are receiving dental attention.
Five, Sir. I understand that nearly half the school population of the area are receiving regular dental inspection and treatment.
What about the other half?
Emergency treatment is available for the greater part of the other half, and where we can do so we are attempting to increase it.
Can the Minister say whether there has been any response in Norfolk or elsewhere to the circular sent out three or four months ago from the British Dental Association, urging local groups of dentists to take part in this work on a part-time basis?
There has been some response but I cannot, without notice, state to what extent.
asked the Minister of Education what are the percentages of children that passed from the primary schools to grammar and technical schools, respectively, for the country as a whole, the comparable figures for the City of Leeds, the county of Kent and the division covered by the North-West Kent Divisional Executive.
As the answer contains a table of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.Following is the answer:
|Percentage of children from maintained primary schools offered grammar school places||Percentage of children from maintained primary schools offered places in secondary technical schools|
|Leeds County Borough||15·9||4·3|
|North-West Kent Divisional Executive||11·0||0·0|
1. In Kent children are transferred to secondary technical schools from secondary modern schools. The numbers thus offered places in secondary technical schools in 1950 give roughly comparable percentages for Kent and the North-West Kent Divisional Executive of 11·6 and 10·4.
2. I have no exactly comparable figures for England and Wales, but in January, 1950, 20·6 per cent. of 13 year-old children holding free places in grant-aided schools were in grammar schools or grammar streams. The comparable percentage for technical schools and streams was 3·4.
School Harvest Camps
asked the Minister of Education whether, in view of the forthcoming discontinuation of school harvest camp schemes after 1951, he will consult with the National Farmers' Union to see in what ways pupils can be kept in contact with agricultural life and the educational benefit of those schemes preserved.
I should be happy to be associated with the discussion of this question which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture proposes to hold with the National Farmers' Union.
The Minister says that he will be happy to be associated with the discussion. Does he mean that he will be associated with it? Does he expect to be happy or not?
Irrespective of the happiness, I shall be glad to be associated with it.
Will the right hon. Gentleman be associated with it?
Yes. That was my intention in expressing happiness.
University Students (Grants)
asked the Minister of Education how many university students are now receiving State grants; and what are the maximum and the minimum grants paid to students.
The number of university students receiving State grants is at present 24,266, including some 3,800 intending teachers. The standard figures of maintenance for holders of State awards are set out in Administrative Memorandum 332 of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy. In addition allowances for wives and dependants are available for students under the further education and training scheme and for certain other older students.
Can my right hon. Friend say how the number of students and the amount paid in grants compare with the pre-war figures?
Not without notice.
Teachers' Training Colleges
asked the Minister of Education how many more men and women respectively, could be accommodated in existing training colleges for teachers, if suitable applicants were available.
The general colleges are full. The colleges ofering housecraft training could take about 70 more women.
Questions To Ministers
The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:
7. M. JENNINGS,—To ask the Minister of Education if he is aware that the Durham County Council have sent out a circular to all teachers under their authority asking them to produce evidence of membership of a trade union by a fixed date or lose their employment; and what action he proposes to take.
On a point of order. May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker? In view of the importance of the material of the Question No. 7 and the fact that the appearance of this Question, together with another one, on the Order Paper led you to decide not to permit a Private Notice Question on the matter, could the Minister answer Question No. 7?
Certainly not. The Member who put down the Question was not here to ask it. That is his responsibility. It is not a point of order.
Emigration To Canada
asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what discussions he has had with the Canadian Government in regard to the fall in emigration from the United Kingdom to Canada in recent years.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he should initiate some discussions on this matter? I realise that it is primarily a matter for the Canadian Government, but is it not disadvantageous to this country that no action should be taken to speed up emigration?
I agree with the hon. Member that it is really a matter for the Canadian Government to initiate. We should be happy to have talks with them on this subject if they wish to initiate them.
Is not one of the great barriers to emigration the financial policy of His Majesty's Government? Until that is altered, which can only be done by this Government, can talks possibly begin?
I take it that the hon. Member is referring to the limitation on the export of capital. That, of course, has had some effect, but I think it has not had a very great effect. I have, naturally, looked very carefully into that point. We should like to relax our controls as soon as possible, but I do not think that this limitation has had a very great effect on the numbers of emigrants to Canada.
Has the Minister discussed that aspect of the problem with the Canadians? Surely the Canadian Government might give him a better founded view than the view which he himself has formed.
I have discussed this matter with the Canadian authorities. I do not think that they disagree with what I have said.
Is not one of the causes of the fall in emigration to Canada, the result of the general policy of the Government, which has resulted in people being so much happier at home than they used to be?
Trade And Commerce
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement indicating the degree to which there has been reciprocity by the countries of Europe in response to our liberalisation of trade; and whether he is satisfied with the response.
The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation recently decided that member countries should liberalise at least 60 per cent. of their imports on private account from one another of food, raw materials and manufactured goods counted separately. Returns made to the Organisation to show the action taken in fulfilment of this decision indicate that nearly all the principal trading countries concerned have fully conformed to it. Further liberalisation is expected by 1st February, 1951, and, meanwhile, I see no reason to be dissatisfied.
Do not a number of the administrative difficulties which are put up by various countries have the effect of cutting down the benefit to us? Is it not a fact that owing to the influence of the utility scheme many countries are reluctant to do what they ought to do under this arrangement?
That and the other difficulties referred to by the hon. Member are being discussed with the countries concerned.
Is it not the case that under the scheme at present, industrial felts manufactured in this country cannot gain admission into Germany, whereas German industrial felts can be sold here at a lower price than in Germany? Is that not a form of organised dumping which these rules were framed to prevent?
If the hon. Member will put down a Question on these matters, I shall be glad to answer it.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the very heavy incidence of Purchase Tax on umbrellas, namely, 70 per cent., he will give consideration to making arrangements to permit the production of a utility umbrella at a reasonable price.
I could not introduce a utility umbrella merely in order to cut down the incidence of Purchase Tax. Any question of altering the rate of tax is, of course, one for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is almost impossible to buy an umbrella for less than about 35s., because of the very high incidence of Purchase Tax? Shop assistants, typists, cleaners, and other wage earners who may not have umbrellas and are unable to buy them at a reasonable price have their clothing spoiled in bad weather, which will be an encumbrance upon the Board of Trade, and, if they are laid up with colds, a disturbance for business.
My hon. Friend will not expect me to anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget statement.
Canadian Footwear (Tax)
asked the President of the Board of Trade how he intends to remove the discrimination against imported Canadian Purchase Tax paying rubber footwear caused by the bringing of identical and similar British-made footwear into the tax free utility scheme.
I cannot as yet add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member on 9th November.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this form of discrimination is affecting our trade with Canada somewhat adversely, and could not he speed up his decision?
No, Sir. There is no evidence that this is very gravely affecting our imports of footwear from Canada. In any case, the main item of interest to the Canadian exporters is that of Wellington boots which are not covered by the utility scheme.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is satisfied that there are adequate supplies of phosphoric acid available in view of its importance in the rearmament programme.
I have no reason to suppose that the rearmament programme will suffer in any way through shortages of phosphoric acid.
Does not the Minister agree that the principal supplier of this acid says that there is a shortage and that he cannot supply? That being so, will the right hon. Gentleman reduce import duties, as has been done with other commodities, to make certain that adequate supplies are available?
I am ready to look into the question of supplies to any particular consumer; but I was asked about the rearmament programme, and I am assured that there should be no real difficulties in that connection.
Census Of Distribution
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will inform the House of the progress being made in the census of distribution; and when he expects the census to be completed.
Preparations for the census of distribution to be taken in 1951 are well advanced, and forms for completion will be issued to traders at the beginning of next year. If the forms are returned promptly I hope that some tabulated results will be available by the end of 1952.
Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will resist any pressure that this census should be abandoned?
Yes, Sir. I have already made clear the attitude of the Government on that question.
Waste Paper Collection
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has now received the plan from the Waste Paper Recovery Association which is intended to encourage local authorities to resume or increase waste paper collection; and if he will make a statement thereupon.
Yes, Sir. I have now received a scheme for a new national waste paper salvage campaign to be run in 1951 by the Waste Paper Recovery Association, who are offering prizes totalling £20,000 for the councils which collect the highest tonnage per head of their population per month. I am arranging for the details of the scheme to be published in the Board of Trade Journal. As I have already announced, the mills have agreed to guarantee a minimum price of £6 10s. a ton for mixed baled waste paper collected by local councils, with higher prices for better, sorted, grades. The mills undertake to accept all the paper offered to them by councils at those prices until the end of 1951, and, furthermore, if the market prices are higher, to pay the market price.I should like to emphasise the importance which I attach to an early resumption of collections by as many councils as possible, particularly those in urban and semi-urban areas. In taking this course they will be doing a national service, and will indirectly be aiding most branches of trade and industry in their own areas, which are dependent on paper or board supplies for one purpose or another.
Now that the Minister has completed this welcome scheme for the salvage of waste paper, and although I appreciate that he has circulated Departments on the subject of avoiding all waste of paper, may I ask cannot he devise a constructive plan whereby the nationalised industries, Government Departments and local authorities could be encouraged, perhaps by the awarding of a prize, to save all the paper they can by using much less in their work?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware of what I said on the subject last Friday, when I stressed the need for maximum economy in private industry as well.
Does this mean the scrapping of all Tory posters in Liverpool?
asked the President of the Board of Trade how much of the 100,000 tons of British-made newsprint allocated to the Commonwealth in 1951 has been earmarked for Malaya.
One thousand, eight hundred tons of British newsprint have been allocated for export to Malaya and Singapore in 1951.
In view of the contribution that newspapers in Malaya are making to the solution of the emergency there, and also of the difficulty they are experiencing in getting newsprint at any price, will the Minister consider at least doubling the supply? Further, will he receive a deputation on the subject?
The hon. Gentleman will realise the difficulty which I have in this connection, the more so when I am under strong pressure to reduce exports of newsprint from this country.
Remembering that Malaya is the only part of the British Empire now at war, and realising the urgent need for active propaganda by Press and other means, will not the Minister look once more at the question of this hopelessly inadequate allocation?
I am well aware of the need for newsprint in Malaya. We are doing what we can to help them. It might help if the hon. Gentleman would advise his right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) to stop asking for a reduction of exports from this country.
asked the President of the Board of Trade on what grounds he has allotted to the Colonies less than 6 per cent. of the total 1951 allocation to the Commonwealth of newsprint manufactured in the United Kingdom.
The pattern of our newsprint exports follows, with some modifications, the long-term contracts made by United Kingdom mills, which, in turn, reflect our traditional pattern of trade.
Does not the Minister realise that the action taken to cut down imports from dollar countries entirely alters the situation? Does he really think that such a very small proportion is an equitable one, having in mind the comparison of population between the Colonies and the Dominions?
We shall certainly do anything we can to help the Colonies. I think that many of their difficulties arise from the fact that they are unable to buy newsprint for which dollars have been allocated in the dollar area.
When considering the allocation of newsprint to the Colonies, will my right hon. Friend also take into account the fact that the newspapers in Malaya are considerably bigger than the newspapers in this country?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will convene a conference of representatives from the Dominions and the United States of America to investigate and consider the best means of ensuring an equitable distribution of newsprint so as to ensure a minimum of an eight page daily newspaper in this country.
I have had this idea in mind for some time, but should prefer to consider it when the supply position for next year is somewhat clearer.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the mistake he has always made in the past has been in not looking far enough ahead? Is not he aware that his action in causing the cancellation of the Canadian contract drove the newsprint into the American market; and, having got the newspapers into this mess, has he not some responsibility to get them out of it?
Three, if not four, times this year we have extended our arrange- ment with Canada still further ahead at the request of the Newsprint Supply Company. On each occasion they said that if we would do that it would solve the problem.
Forest Of Dean
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether in view of that part of the Coal Board's National Development Plan relating to the Forest of Dean coalfield, envisaging the virtual exhaustion of the coal within the next 15 years and a gradual decline up to then, he will consider further measures to attract other industries to this area, so as to avoid serious unemployment or the uprooting of a part of the industrial population.
It would be premature for me to make any statement on this subject until the proposals contained in the National Coal Board's "Plan for Coal" have been considered by the industry's National Consultative Council and the Consumers' Councils and presented to my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Fuel and Power, for his approval. But as I informed my hon. Friend in reply to his Question on 22nd June, he can rest assured that we are keeping the industrial trends in this area, and other areas likely to be affected, under constant review.
Utility Clothing (Profit Margins
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether after inquiry by his officers at the premises of a firm in Leeds, referred to him by the hon. Member for Leeds, West, he is satisfied that the margins allowed to the trade for outwear utility garments are such that the consumers' interest is being protected whilst maintaining trade union wages and conditions and fair trading profits in the industry.
Can my right hon. Friend say how often his Department revises the utility price margins?
We are conducting continuous examination into the actual costs of production and margins of profit on practically every item covered by price control under the utility scheme.
Raw Cotton Imports
asked the President of the Board of Trade what action is being taken to improve the supply of raw cotton to the United Kingdom.
asked the President of the Board of Trade why the United Kingdom has received a smaller allocation of the current United States crop of raw cotton than Japan or Germany and a relatively smaller allocation than Italy.
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of inadequate allocations from the United States of America, he is satisfied that the existing stocks of raw cotton are sufficient both in quantity and quality to maintain cotton textile production at the highest level compatible with existing machinery and labour.
I am not satisfied that an adequate share of the United States' cotton crop has so far been made available to us. Representations are now being made to the United States Government in Washington, and I am sure that the House will not expect me to make any further comment now.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say in what growths the most serious deficiencies exist, and can he say whether the cotton trade is getting clear information of the details so that they can plan accordingly? Is he aware that full employment in the cotton trade depends entirely on an adequate supply of raw materials?
I am certainly well aware of the last point. The Raw Cotton Commission have given guidance to the Lancashire mills, but since it was only at the end of last week that we had the detailed allocation of the second batch of exports from the United States, it is too early yet to be able to assess its effect.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that buying by competent private enterprise would get us a larger allocation for the Lancashire industry than we get under this Government to Government allocation?
Since this particular cotton is sold by private enterprise, and since the whole difficulty relates to the question of the export licences issued by the United States Government, the method of purchasing in this country has absolutely nothing to do with the matter.
Defence Orders (Raw Materials)
asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to ensure that factories engaged on vital work in connection with the defence programme are not hampered owing to the lack of adequate raw materials.
While no case has been brought to my notice where defence orders have been hampered by a shortage of raw materials for which the Board of Trade is responsible, I am aware that difficulties are already arising in the supply of certain raw materials. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated during the debate on the Address on 2nd November, we have taken up these difficulties as a matter of urgency with the countries concerned. If shortages develop, special allocation arrangements will be introduced as necessary in order to see that priority users have the first call on available supplies. I hope that a fuller statement will be made shortly.
In view of the very great importance of this question, which might hold up the whole rearmament programme, has the Minister consulted the various trade associations, who are only too willing to assist in seeing that raw material flows into the country through the channels that are desirable?
Yes, Sir; I agree that there is no item of greater importance at present in our production situation, and my Department and other Departments are maintaining close contacts with the trade associations, both in regard to supplies and meeting the needs of essential users.
Is the Minister aware of the rapidly increasing anxiety on this subject in the engineering industries of Birmingham and the Midlands? The brass foundries, for example, fear that they may only be able to reach 50 per cent. of their capacity owing to shortage of metal?
Yes, Sir. I am aware of that, and it was that to which I was referring in my answer.
While the shortage of materials exists in the textile industry, will the Minister pay particular attention to the export of cotton waste from this country?
Yes, Sir. I am at the moment going into the question of cotton waste, cotton yarn and rayon materials.
Hotel Accommodation, London
asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken during the past 12 months to deal with the increasing difficulty of obtaining hotel accommodation in the London area; and what action he proposes to take during the next few months to increase the accommodation available in order to deal with the large influx of visitors who are being encouraged to come to London in 1951 for the Festival of Britain.
As the answer is necessarily long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
If charges for accommodation become exorbitant during the Festival of Britain can action be taken? If so, will it be taken?
No consideration has been given to that particular question, because the urgent one is to ensure that sufficient accommodation is made available to meet the needs of those who want to come, I have asked the British Hotels and Restaurants Association to reserve a large proportion of their rooms for overseas visitors, particularly for those who spend dollars.
Can the Minister say whether the action he is taking includes restraining his right hon. Friends from requisitioning hotels?
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look into this, he will find that we have de-requisitioned by far the greatest proportion of those that were requisitioned. Further, we have just come to an arrangement to de-requisition a further four, which the hotels industry is not willing to take over.
Can my right hon. Friend ensure that Members of Parliament necessarily occupying hotels while they are on the business of the House, will not be thrown out?
I shall require notice of that question.
In stating that the hotel industry is not willing to take on these premises, has the right hon. Gentleman considered that, under the terms of the Catering Wages Act, it is not possible for the industry to render the service it would like to render?Following is the answer: My colleagues and I have for some time past been giving close attention to the problems created by the shortage of hotel accommodation in London, and to the serious consquences which this situation was likely to have, not only upon the success of the Festival of Britain, but also upon the development of our tourist trade. While we have been principally concerned to ensure satisfactory arrangements for the reception of visitors from overseas, we have also taken account of the large numbers of our own people who will be attracted by the Festival. It has been impracticable to arrive at any accurate estimate of the size of the problem, but work has gone ahead on the basis that as much additional accommodation as possible should be provided. The first new hotel to be built in London since the war should be open in good time for the Festival. The bulk of hotel building licensed in London consists, however, of projects of extension, modernisation and reconstruction. Since the beginning of the year, building licences have been granted which will result in an additional 1,300 bedrooms becoming available in time for the opening of the Festival and a further 170 a month or two later. The British Hotels and Restaurants Association have at my request urged their London members to reserve a high proportion of their rooms for overseas visitors, with priority for tourists from dollar countries. I hope very much that all London hotels will follow this lead, and I would urge all hotel keepers willingly to accept advance bookings from overseas visitors, whether made directly or through travel agents. During this year's tourist season, a highly successful experiment was conducted in the inauguration of the London Hotels Information Service, operated by the British Hotels and Restaurants Association, in conjunction with the British Travel and Holidays Association. The Service does not make bookings, but informs overseas visitors and travel agents acting for them of hotels with vacant rooms. Since it was started last June the Service has arranged some 35,000 nights' accommodation. The Service will continue in an extended form during 1951. Efforts are also being made to ease the pressure on hotel accommodation in central London by encouraging visitors to make greater use of hotels on the outskirts, and in towns within easy reach of London. Moreover, under the Hotel Grants Scheme, which I announced on 6th July, in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling), we are providing a financial incentive to hotels to cater for United States and Canadian visitors during 1951. Even although a considerable amount of building work has been authorised and we have done our utmost to see that London hotel accommodation is used to the best advantage, it may not be possible to accommodate everyone in hotels. There is, however, a large and untapped reserve of sleeping accommodation for tourists in private houses. Early this year the British Travel and Holidays Association launched a scheme for inspecting and registering all offers of such accommodation. So far, 3,350 households, providing more than 7,000 beds, have been registered. A special inquiry office will direct overseas visitors who are unable to obtain hotel rooms w this accommodation. Special attention has been given to providing moderately priced accommodation for organised parties of young people and schoolchildren, many of whom have been in the habit of staying at the Clapham deep shelter. This shelter, which has a capacity of 4,000, will he reopened for the Festival period under the management of the London County Council, to whom we are greatly indebted for their ready co-operation. The Clapham shelter necessarily provides only simple accommodation and is intended for those who stay not more than a night or two. For those who wish to stay longer, we are arranging a tented camp at Chigwell which will provide inexpensive accommodation for 2,000 visitors. We hope that there will also be a smaller camp with provision for about 1,000 visitors. These camps, which are intended primarily for overseas visitors, will be run by voluntary youth organisations, with equipment provided from Government stocks. Another site is provisionally earmarked for caravans and independent campers with space for about 500 people. Full details of these arrangements will be announced as soon as possible.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the report of the productivity team of industrial accountants and managers who recently visited the United States of America; and if he will set up an independent commission to investigate the extent of price agreements, quotas and restrictive practices in Britain, as recommended in the report.
I have seen this report, but see no advantage in duplicating the work of the existing Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission by setting up another Commission to cover the same ground.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is likely to be two years before the Commission issue their recommendations, and does he approve of the British people being cheated for the next two years into believing that there is such as thing as free, competitive private enterprise in Britain?
It will not be two years before we have the first report from the Monopolies Commission, because one is being published in a few days' time, and another should be available in January. I hope, shortly after that, to make a statement on the arrangements in hand to speed up the work of the Monopolies Commission.
Passenger Examination (London Airport)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why M. Paul Loyonnet, who came to the United Kingdom on behalf of the French Government to play at a private concert at the French Institute in Edinburgh and London, was cross-examined as to whether he was going to earn money in England at such length, by the immigration officials at Heathrow on Tuesday, 7th November, 1950, that he missed his train to Scotland; and whether the officials concerned will be instructed, in similar cases, to telephone the French Embassy for confirmation instead of conducting a long drawn-out examination.
M. Loyonnet and the other passengers accompanying him could not be dealt with as quickly as is usual at the London Airport because their aircraft was 40 minutes late and arrived at a time when the staff were heavily engaged in dealing with other arrivals; and M. Loyonnet himself was further delayed because after his examination had begun he had to go to the Customs shed to get certain papers from his baggage and so lost his place in the queue. I am satisfied that the immigration officer did not question M. Loyonnet at undue length, and that no time would have been saved by consulting the French Embassy.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large part of the delay was due to the cross-examination by the immigration official? Was not this a very churlish welcome to somebody who comes over here to give a concert at the request of the French Government?
No, Sir; I do not think that the facts as reported to me bear out what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, but I am always sorry when, owing to a chapter of accidents such as has occurred in this case, delay and inconvenience occur to visitors.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements have been made for showing Civil Defence exhibitions for the purpose of encouraging recruitment to the Civil Defence and allied services; and whether hon. Members will have an opportunity of inspecting one.
Six Civil Defence touring exhibitions have been prepared for use by local authorities: three of these were recently put on tour and the remainder will be sent out very shortly. I have already written to those hon. Members in whose constituencies they will be shown. It is not practicable to display one of these exhibitions here, but a smaller Civil Defence exhibition will be on view in the Library from 4th–16th December, and I hope that all hon. Members will take the opportunity of seeing it.
Will the hon. Gentleman, in these exhibitions, incorporate some indication of the way in which the Women's Voluntary Services can play a part in assisting Civil Defence, in accordance with the posters which his Department itself has issued?
I will make a note of that.
Will my hon. Friend ask all local authorities to see that these exhibitions are properly advertised?
I will bear that in mind.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now prepared to approve an establishment for a Civil Defence mobile column; and to authorise the recruitment of at least one such column on a full-time paid basis.
Arrangements are being made to form an experimental column of part-time volunteers ready to give full-time service in the event of war. Pending the experience to be gained from this it would be premature to recruit a column on a full-time basis.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very great importance of this innovation in Civil Defence and the extreme value of the prototype in constructing Civil Defence in the future, and will he encourage every step being taken to get support for this particular method of activity?
Yes, Sir. We regard this mobile column as very important.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise the importance of earmarking vehicles well in advance to transport these columns?
I will see that the point is not overlooked.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the event of an atomic attack all the local Civil Defence personnel would probably be out of action, and that these mobile columns may well be the only means of dealing with the situation? Could not some further steps be taken beyond this one experimental column?
We recognise the importance of these columns in case of any form of heavy air attack, and that is why we are going ahead with this experimental one to see what lessons can be learned from its organisation.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent an organisation named Peace Pledge Union from hindering recruitment for Civil Defence and undermining the morale of those who have already been recruited in Civil Defence by circulating a defeatist pamphlet entitled, "Civil Defence: What You Should Do Now."
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell), on 23rd November.
Is the Minister aware that this pamphlet contains subversive statements alleging that deep shelters will only be available for the Government and advising members of the Civil Defence organisation to leave the country or to make sure that they will not support the Government? In view of these statements, could not a special Act be introduced, such as the one which deals with people subverting the Armed Forces?
No, Sir. For one thing, I think that the hon. Gentleman is exaggerating the influence of this pamphlet, and I am not anxious to take unnecessary powers to restrict freedom of expression, no matter how foolish.
Is this the pamphlet to which the Minister referred as subversive in his statement in the "News Chronicle"? Has the right hon. Gentleman read the pamphlet, and is he prepared to put this alleged subversive pamphlet in the Library, so that Members can judge for themselves?
No, Sir, I have not alluded to this pamphlet as subversive, but I have read it and I gather from the Questions I have been asked that a large number of hon. Members have read it, and that it has had no effect on their patriotism.
38 and 39.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he is aware that, despite falling revenues, football pool winnings in excess of £100,000 have recently been paid and publicised by the organisations concerned; and if, in view of these facts, he will request the Royal Commission now examining this and other forms of betting, to consider issuing an interim report as to the methods of football pool accountancy and declaration of winnings upon which they have already received considerable evidence;(2) if he is aware of the public disquiet as to the lack of information as to the accounts of the football pool industry; and if, pending the report of the Royal Commission now sitting, he will consider legislation designed to make full weekly publication of accounts obligatory upon all football organisations.
As the Royal Commission is expected to report fairly early in the New Year, I do not think I would be justified in asking them at this late stage of their proceedings to consider issuing an interim report on this matter. I will, however, bring my hon. Friend's Questions to their notice. The House will be aware that a Private Member's Motion for leave to introduce a Bill to make compulsory the regular publication of accounts and information by persons promoting football pool betting was carried without a Division by the House last Tuesday.
May we assume from what my right hon. Friend has said that it is his intention to give every possible support to the Private Member's Bill relating to this question, which is shortly to come before the House?
No, Sir. I have not seen the Bill yet, and I never support any Bill until I have seen it.
Does not the fact that a Bill is to be brought in, after being introduced under the Ten Minutes' Rule, show how completely wrong the Lord President was in resisting the demand for the restoration of Private Members' time?
Injured Prisoners (Compensation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision is made for a man who sustains, while serving a prison sentence, an injury which prevents him permanently from following any employment after his discharge.
The National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts do not apply to injuries sustained in prison employment, but it is the practice of my Department to make an ex-gratia payment equivalent to the award which would have been made under the Acts if they had been applicable. Cases of non-industrial injury differ so widely in their nature and effects that each case has to be treated on its merits: compensation is sometimes given by way of special remission of sentence, though the possibility of an ex-gratia payment in an appropriate case is not excluded, and the injured prisoner also has his remedies at law. There is no record of a prisoner having sustained during his sentence an injury resulting in total and permanent disablement.
Is the Minister aware that I have a case of a man who was injured while working in prison, who, after being discharged, developed tuberculosis of the spine as the result of the injury? Is it not possible for this man to be dealt with under the Industrial Injuries Act, since he sustained the injury while following his employment?
No, Sir. It is not possible to put a man under the Industrial Injuries Act, because there is no contract of employment between the Prison Commissioners and the prisoner, but if my hon. Friend will see me privately I will be very pleased to discuss with him any case where hardship appears to have been inflicted.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the report from the working party appointed to look into the law and practices in connection with the use of hackney carriages; and how many meetings to date this committee have held.
I understand that the working party hope to be able to report on all the matters referred to them about next March. Twenty-three meetings have been held so far.
Licensing Laws, Wales
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many resolutions his Department has received during the last 12 months asking that no change be made in the present licensing laws as they affect Sunday closing in Wales.
asked the Minister of Agriculture what were the numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry when his expansion programme was started in 1947; and what they are now.
As the answer contains a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been a very great increase in the number of livestock since that date?
Yes, Sir, there has been a very large increase in each case.
In view of the heavy stock losses during the winter of 1946–47, could the right hon. Gentleman include a comparison with 1946 as well as a comparison with 1947, which gives rather an exaggerated view of the increase since that date?
That only applies to sheep. The 1947 figures we have given are for before that disaster.Following is the statement:
|NUMBERS OF CATTLE, SHEEP, PIGS AND POULTRY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AT SEPTEMBER IN THE YEARS 1947 AND 1950 (a)|
|September 1947 (000||September 1950 (provisional) (000)|
|Cattle (including calves)||9,650||10,501|
|Sheep (including lambs (b)||15,795||18,518|
Tomatoes And Cucumbers (Marketing Board)
asked the Minister of Agriculture what workers' representation he proposes to give on the provisional tomato and cucumber marketing board; and if he will indicate the number of seats which will be allotted to the workers on the permanent board.
Invitations from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself to serve as members of the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board have been accepted by Mrs. E. A. Wills, Mr. Howard Cunningham, and Mr. R. L. Latimer and Mr. W. J. Shingfield. Their function will not be to represent any particular section of the community, but rather to leaven the specialised knowledge of the producer members with experience gained in other capacities.
Would the Minister say which of the four persons nominated represent Scottish interests?
Mr. Howard Cunningham is managing director of Scottish Agricultural Industries and he is also a director of the Commercial Bank of Scotland.
Would not the Minister give further consideration to the suggestion made to him several times that he should give worker and consumer representation on this Board?
If the hon. Member will take note of the names I have mentioned he will find that Mrs. E. A. Wills, a Member of this House from 1945 to 1950, is a director of the Co-operative Society, and that the last named, W. J. Shingfield, is a retired organiser of a workers' union.
Farm Workers, Scotland (Wages)
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board has rejected an application by the workers for an increase in the agricultural minimum wage in Scotland; and if he will now make a statement on the effect this will have upon any adjustment of price next February to meet the increased costs of production due to the wage increase in England and Wales.
The answer to the first part is "Yes, Sir." To the second part, I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) on 16th November.
Does not the Minister agree that it would be eminently unfair to include Scotland in any price review seeing that they have no increased costs in the form of increased wages? Is he not of the opinion that the members of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board should fall into line with their more enlightened colleagues across the Border and give the Scottish farm workers what they are entitled to?
I am sure my hon. Friend would not expect me to answer the last part of his Question.
If Scottish farmers have no increased wages to meet, can my right hon. Friend explain why Brussels sprouts are 9d. in Glasgow and only 5d. in London?
That is one of the peculiarities of Scotland.
Fowl Pest, Norfolk
asked the Minister of Agriculture what further outbreaks of fowl pest have occurred in Norfolk; and the number of poultry involved.
There has been one further outbreak in Norfolk during the past week. There were 228 birds on the premises where the disease occurred, and all were slaughtered.
In view of the incidence of this disease and its disastrous nature should not there be a further inquiry into the best method of preventing its spread, in view of the enormous increase in poultry in the country?
I can assure my hon. Friend that research is going on all the time in order to find a cure for, and also the prevention of, this disease.
Has it not something to do with marketing?
My hon. Friend must know that during the whole of this year and last we have exercised control over the movement of poultry as between area and area, county and county, and as between England and Scotland, too.
Can the Minister say what is the reason for this latest outbreak and whether his right hon. Friend the Minister of Food is the nigger in the woodpile?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I did not convey the pest. It is just possible that the owner himself, who is a smallholder and who is also employed on the premises of a poulterer, who makes purchases over a wide area, conveyed the disease from where he works to his own smallholding.
Have there been any further outbreaks in the country during the past week?
I could not say without notice.
asked the Minister of Agriculture what are the publicity methods of the Forestry Commission in Wales to inform the public of the need of afforestation, and where, and how, this is to be carried out.
Publicity on forestry in Wales has consisted of statements to the Press and B.B.C., visits by the Press to forest operations at the invitation of the Forestry Commission, publication of booklets and pamphlets (in both English and Welsh), addresses and talks to official and voluntary organisations concerned with Welsh affairs, and the staging of exhibits at agricultural shows in Wales.
In view of the widespread protest in Wales about the action of the Ministry of Agriculture with regard to afforestation, would not the Minister agree that it would be better if he asked one of his officers in Wales to deal with public relations only?
So many meetings have been held in various parts of Wales, particularly in connection with forestry, that I do not think the sending of a publicity officer to Wales would have the desired effect.
asked the Minister of Agriculture what plans the Forestry Commission have for starting a forest area at Fairwarp, on the south-east edge of Ashdown Forest.
Plans for the acquisition of some 900 acres are well advanced, and further areas are under consideration.
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will detail the river boards established under the 1948 River Boards Act.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 27th July last to my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Slater), which detailed the 17 river boards which have been constituted. During January and February it is hoped to hold first meetings of eight further boards which will take over their functions on 1st April, 1951.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the total number of River Boards it is possible to establish?
I think it may be 31.
Could we have an assurance from the Minister that two of the boards being set up in January or February will be separate boards for the Nene and the Welland rivers?
I could not give the hon. and gallant Member the assurance for which he asks, and he knows perfectly well why.
Is the Minister aware that the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Bill is meaningless until we know what angling representatives there will be on the river boards? Will Ito therefore see that the information is given to us before the Committee stage is reached?
No, Sir, I take the view that the river boards are fully representative, and that the anglers' associations are very satisfied with the results of the appointments so far.
Pensioners' Tobacco Tokens
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the case of Mr. H. A. Pendrey, 49, Henley Street, Stratford-on-Avon, who suffered the financial loss of £5 7s. 6d. because of the theft of his wallet, which contained his pensioner's tobacco tokens; and, in view of the serious financial hardship which is caused in cases such as this, whether he is prepared to consider amending the present regulations with regard to tobacco tokens issued to pensioners, so that they can be replaced in such circumstances.
The hon. Member has written to my right hon. Friend about this case, and I appreciate that the loss of the token may be a serious misfortune to Mr. Pendrey; but I fear that, as has been explained on several previous occasions, token books lost by accident or theft must be regarded in the same light as currency notes and postage stamps, and cannot be replaced.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in view of the constantly rising cost of living, these tobacco tokens are really a godsend to pensioners? Cannot he devise a scheme whereby they are linked by number or name to the identity cards of pensioners, so that they can be cancelled if they are lost and new ones issued?
The hon. Member no doubt realises that, at the end of a period, a pensioner can get a new token.
Will the hon. Gentleman go into the question of whether it is possible to issue these tokens more frequently than once a year, so that if an old age pensioner lost or burned his coupons, he would not have to wait a considerable time for their renewal?
I will certainly consider that.
War Damage Claims
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the economic conditions that are necessary to enable him to implement Section 85 (1) of the War Damage Act. 1945, and to repay the £41 million outstanding.
I can give no undertaking on this subject at the present moment.
As this is in the nature of a debt to the people of this country, has the hon. Gentleman ever considered the possibility of refunding this money in some form of loan?
I do not think that has been considered, but the hon. Gentleman will realise that some payments are already being made in special cases.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many cases the War Damage Commission have refused to treat as notification of war damage notification given other than on the prescribed forms; and in how many cases have war damage claims been rejected on this sole ground.
I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available; as regards the second part, the War Damage Commission inform me that no cases have been rejected on the sole ground mentioned.
In that case, will the hon. Gentleman be good enough to ask them to reconsider the case, about which he wrote to me on 22nd November, where, according to him, they did reject it on that ground?
I will certainly look into that case, but I am assured by the War Damage Commission that no case has been rejected solely on that ground.
Fuel Saving Devices (Tax)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the need to economise in fuel, he will reduce the Purchase Tax on gas water heaters and other fuel saving devices.
I will bear the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion in mind.
Would it not be better to carry this out now, before the approach of winter weather?
Has the Minister received any representations on this matter from the Ministry of Fuel and Power, who appealed, I think a few days ago, for better and more economical combustion?
We have frequently discussed the matter with the Ministry of Fuel and Power; indeed, it is in consultation with them that the various rates in force have been adopted.
Has the Minister considered grading the tax according to the amount and type of fuel consumed, whether solid or otherwise, rather than by the prime cost of the appliance?
The hon. Member will remember that, basically, the present rates were adopted in 1947 mainly to encourage more fuel saving.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what grounds the Inland Revenue refuse to grant allowance for wife's earned income relief in the case of a married woman over the age of 60 in receipt of 26s. a week retirement allowance and in respect of previous insurance contributions.