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Written Answers

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 30th November, 1950


School Dental Service


asked the Minister of Education how many dentists are required for the School Dental Service in Northants; how many are now serving in it; and what steps he proposes to take to improve services by the use of mobile dental clinics or otherwise.

I understand that the local education authority have approved an establishment of seven dental officers and that they at present have five. The only way to remedy the present deficiencies of the School Dental Service is to have more school dentists, and I hope that the present negotiations on the Dental Whitley Council will result in a satisfactory settlement which will subsequently improve the position.

Teachers, Durham (Nut Membership)


asked 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.

I have already made my position clear in the letter which I sent to the Durham local education authority on 22nd November and in the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) on 23rd November. If there is evidence that as a result of the local education authority's most recent decision the educational service is likely to be endangered, I should be bound to take immediate action.

Burnham Committee (Recommendations)

asked the Minister of Education when he expects to receive the recommendations of the Burnham Committee.

I have no doubt that when the Burnham Committee have finally agreed their recommendations, such recommendations will be submitted to me without unnecessary delay, but I cannot say when the Committee will have reached this stage.

Trade And Commerce



asked the President of the Board of Trade what facilities have been granted to the Soviet Embassy for the purchase of newsprint in this country.

Nylon Stockings (Newton Abbot)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that there is a shortage of nylon stockings in the shops of Newton Abbot; and if he will take steps to provide a more generous supply to that town.

I have no information which suggests that Newton Abbot is not receiving its fair share of the nylon stockings available.

Pottery Factories, North Staffordshire

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will set out in tabular form the amount allowed to be spent on repairs, alterations and new factories for the manufacture of pottery and earthenware products in North Staffordshire, for each year since 1945; and the amount sanctioned for 1951.

I am writing to my hon. Friend giving such information as is available.

Knitwear (Small Retailers)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that small retailers are enabled to obtain their fair share of knitwear under the amended Knitted Goods (Manufacture) Order, which encourages manufacturers through the higher price margins allowed to reduce their sales through normal wholesale channels and increase their direct sales to the larger retailers.

I have no evidence that small retailers are at present having difficulty in getting a fair share of the available supplies of knitwear.

Swine Fever


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many cases of swine fever have been reported since 1st June, 1950; whether the incidence of this disease shows any increase; and whether he is satisfied that all practical measures are being taken to prevent infection.

There have been 315 confirmed outbreaks of swine fever between 1st June and 28th November. The number of outbreaks to date in November is slightly higher than the number in October, but lower than the number in September. Control of the movement of pigs was reimposed over most of England in August and I am satisfied that all practical measures are being taken to prevent the spread of infection.

National Finance

Single-Plot Owners (Development Charge)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that plot owners qualifying for payment under the £300 million grant are in danger of losing their entitlement due to the fact that they are unable to obtain a licence to build; and if he will consider extending the period in which claims can be made in view of the small number of private building licences being made.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave on 7th November to the Hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth).

Central Land Board (Forms)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why forms L.39 were issued by the Central Land Board in respect of property other than single dwelling houses; how many were so issued; why forms C.V. 121 were substituted for forms L.39; and why distinction is drawn between these two forms in respect of contribution to professional charges.

I regret that Forms L.39 were issued inadvertently in these instances. There is no record of the number so issued, but the forms have now been withdrawn. Form C.V.121 is issuable in different circumstances from L.39 and under distinct Regulations. No question of substitution or of making a comparable contribution in respect of professional charges arises.

Price Control Order (Availability)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why Goods and Services (Price Control) Order, No. 1863, dated 20th November, 1950, and commencing 21st November, 1950, was not available for hon. Members at the Vote Office on 27th November, 1950.

The Order comes into operation on 4th December. To allow sufficient time for the printing of the four related Schedules arrangements have been made to publish all five documents on 1st December.

Metropolitan Police



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present shortage in the Metropolitan Police; and to what extent the force has increased since the new pay scales came into force.

The present shortage in the establishment of the Metropolitan Police is 3,771 men and 12 women. The new scales of pay came into force on 1st July, 1949, and since that date there has been a net increase of 355 men and 88 women.



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has considered the accusations officially made by the police against Mr. J. E. Holden of 15, Bonnington Square, S.W.8, of which an account has been sent to him; and what action he proposes to take to investigate the matter.

I am informed that there is no record of any accusations having been made against this man by the police. I am asking the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to arrange for him to be interviewed and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.


Waiting Lists


asked the Minister of Health if he will take the necessary powers to have the number of people on local authorities waiting lists for houses returned to him quarterly; and if he will publish these each quarter immediately the list is completed.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 23rd November to the hon. Member for Hitchin (Mr. Nigel Fisher), of which I am sending him a copy.



asked the Minister of Health how many houses in Liverpool are classified by the Liverpool Medical Officer of Health as being unfit for human habitation; and if he will augment the allocation, to enable Liverpool to deal specially with this problem.

The answer to the first part of the Question is, as I understand, 27,328. As regards the second part, the Corporation's allocations include houses for this purpose, and I understand that they assign a definite proportion of their houses for letting to families in unfit dwellings.

Electrical Heating


asked the Minister of Health if he has authorised the method of heating houses built by local authorities or private enterprise by electricity with cables inserted under the floor; how long this method of heating has been in operation; and whether it is satisfactory.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "No" so far as the local authorities are concerned. I have no information about the use of this method in privately built houses.

Allocation, Smallburgh


asked the Minister of Health if he will reconsider the allocation of 30 houses to the Smallburgh (Norfolk) Rural District Council for the first half of 1951; and if he will receive a deputation from this council to discuss housing matters.

My principal regional officer at Cambridge is meeting a deputation from the local authority on 4th December to hear their representations on this question.

Dorran Houses


asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the new Dorran house manufactured in Scotland costing £400 ex-works; and what steps he is taking to get these houses erected.

I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given by myself and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on 16th and 21st November to the hon. Member for West Ham, North, of which I am sending him copies.

Building Licences (War-Damaged Areas)


asked the Minister of Health if he will grant additional licences for private building in bomb-damaged cities such as Portsmouth where 7,000 private houses were lost.

I am ready to consider, on their merits, any applications from local authorities who wish to devote a larger part of their allocation to the issue of licences for private building to meet urgent needs.

Condemned Houses, Wales

asked the Minister of Health how many houses have been condemned as unfit for human occupation since the end of the war and remain occupied in Cardiff, Glamorgan, and Wales, respectively.

National Health Service

Orthoptic Treatment, Hull


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that, owing to the inadequate facilities at present available, many children in Hull cannot be given the orthoptic treatment they urgently require; and if he will take immediate steps to see that the necessary facilities are provided.

The responsible management committee have recently arranged for an orthoptist to be available on one day each week. When they have found suitable accommodation, they hope to extend the service.

Nurses (Recruitment)


asked the Minister of Health how many beds at the Ground-slow Tuberculosis Sanatorium, Tittensor, Staffordshire, stand unoccupied owing to the shortage of nursing staff; and if he will make a statement on the progress of recruitment to the nursing profession.

Sixty-two beds are unoccupied owing to shortage of nursing staff. Between 5th July, 1948, and 30th September, 1950, the full-time nursing staff of hospitals increased by 16,142 and the part-time staff by 7,584. In the same period the full-time nursing staff of tuberculosis sanatoria increased by 1,207 and the part-time staff by 435. The latest returns show that the rate of progress is being well maintained.

Consultant Anaesthetist (Sessions Of Work)


asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to obtain additional sessions of work for a consultant anaesthetist, whose name has been supplied to him, displaced from a hospital as a consequence of the inauguration of the National Health Service, in view of the moral obligation to do so referred to in paragraph 16 of Terms and Conditions of Service of Hospital Medical and Dental Staffs.

I have asked neighbouring hospital boards to do what they can to help. One board arranged for the consultant to give them slightly more service when his other appointment terminated. The possibility of increasing the amount of service further is being considered.

Hearing Aids


asked the Minister of Health when his experiments on bone conduction hearing aids will be completed; and how soon the sets will be available to patients.


asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the hardships caused to the users of bone conduction hearing aids by reason of the heavy cost of batteries; and if he will consider granting these either free or at a reduced cost.

I cannot adopt my hon. Friend's proposal, but, as already announced, endeavours are being made to provide aids of this type.

Hospitals (Patients' Travelling Expenses)


asked the, Minister of Health what arrangements he has made to implement the new regulations governing expenses in attending hospitals; and to what extent a test of means is involved.

These expenses are paid if the National Assistance Board, using its normal standards of assessment, certifies that the patient would otherwise suffer hardship.

Hospital Registrars


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the professional and other anxieties about the supply of consultants, he will suspend and reconsider his recent circular about appointments in the grades of senior registrars and registrars.


asked the Minister of Health whether he can make a statement on the recent order of his Department instructing hospitals to reduce the numbers of registrars.


asked the Minister of Health whether he will withdraw his proposals for an immediate cut in hospital registrar establishments with a view to putting forward an alternative scheme which will cause less hardship to those concerned, particularly those trainees whose careers have already been seriously affected by their war service.

This circular, which has been grossly misrepresented, was issued after full consultation with the profession's representatives. Its object is in the interests of the profession itself—to secure a proper relationship between the numbers of training posts for future specialists and the number of specialist posts likely to available. In estimating the latter it allows for a reasonable annual expansion over and above mere replacements in present posts, and the numbers of training posts will be reviewed as and when further expansion occurs in later years. The urgency of the circular is that the number of trainees has already risen to nearly twice the number needed to produce the specialists likely to be required and about four times the pre-war number, a situation thoroughly unfair to all concerned. The circular was not prompted by economy—indeed, it provides for alternative appointments if necessary for the work of the hospital.


asked the Minister of Health how many posts of registrar and senior registrar respectively, in hospitals in the North-West Metropolitan Region, will be abolished, if his recent circular is fully implemented; and by what measures it is proposed to avoid reducing either the standards of care and treatment for the patients, or the number of properly-staffed beds.

About 240 and 290 respectively (including the figures for the teaching hospitals in the area). As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to similar questions today.


asked the Minister of Health what prospects of suitable employment are open to those 1,100 hospital registrars who will become redundant as the result of the proposed cut in establishment over and above the 700 appointments which are vacant in the Services and Colonial Medical Services.

Each existing senior registrar and registrar will complete his present year of appointment. Afterwards a senior registrar whose appointment is not renewed but whose services are still needed may be offered a similar temporary hospital appointment for one year. Others and registrars can—as has always been the case where appointments in these training grades have not been renewed—apply to set up in general practice, possibly supplemented by a part-time clinical assistantship at a hospital, or for appointments in civilian medical practice in this country as well as in the fields referred to by the hon. Member, or for university and hospital appointments abroad.

Whitchurch And Ely Hospital Committee

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that, unless the Whitchurch and Ely Hospital Management Committee obtain a loan of £6,000 in excess of the estimates approved by the regional hospital board, it will be impossible to maintain present standards of diet at the hospitals; and if he will make a statement.

The matter will be considered by the regional hospital board on 8th December, after which I will communicate with the hon. Member.

Public Health

Aged Persons (Hot Meals)


asked the Minister of Health if he will consider supplying hot meals from school kitchens to old people, the distribution to be undertaken by voluntary organisations.

I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education on this matter.

Water Undertakings (Tap Specification)


asked the Minister of Health how many of the 2,100 British water undertakings have sent in complaints that the 1924 M.O.H. Specification is unsatisfactory; how many of these complaints have been investigated and proved; what new standard does he now propose to adopt; and if he will give an estimate of the extra cost and the extra material involved.

New by-laws provide for taps to British Standard Specification 1010. I regret that the other information is not readily available.

Poliomyelitis, Wales

asked the Minister of Health how many deaths from poliomyelitis have occurred in Wales monthly since 1st January, 1949; and in how many cases there was no paralysis

I regret that these figures are available only in respect of the whole calendar year. The number of persons resident in Wales who died from poliomyelitis in 1949 was 21. A distinction between paralytic cases and others has only been made since 1st January, 1950, and then only as regards notifications of the disease.

Rates And Expenditure, Ebbw Vale

asked the Minister of Health to state the rates in the pound levied in 1947–48 and 1950–51 by the Ebbw Vale Urban District Council; and the gross total expenditure of the authority in the same years.

The rates for 1947–48 were 25s. 6d. in the pound, and for 1950–51, 19s. 6d. The total gross expenditure in 1947–48 was £498,274. The expenditure for 1950–51 is not yet known.

Iron And Steel Corporation (Staff)


asked the Minister of Labour how many applications for employees of all grades he has received from the Iron and Steel Corporation; and the numbers applied for by separate grades, salaries and qualifications.

It has always been a rule to regard information about the number and nature of vacancies notified to my Department by any employer as confidential. The Iron and Steel Corporation are no different from any other employer and I am therefore not in a position to make this information public.

National Insurance (Ministry's Staff)


asked the Minister of National Insurance whether she is aware that certain established clerical assistants in her Department at Blackpool, who have been forced to leave the Civil Service following the move of that office to Newcastle, are being treated by her as if they had voluntarily resigned; and if she will review this decision.

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind the possibility of claims for unemployment benefit by those members of the established staff of the Ministry of National Insurance at Blackpool who are unwilling to go to Newcastle upon the transfer of their work to that place and for whom other posts cannot be found in or near Blackpool. Such claims will be for determination by the independent statutory authorities, in whose decisions my right hon. Friend cannot intervene.

Broadcasts (Russian Interference)


asked the Postmaster-General whether the Soviet Government was a signatory of the Copenhagen wavelength agreement; and whether he has yet received a reply to his representations to that Government concerning Soviet interference with British broadcasts.

The U.S.S.R. signed and has ratified the European Broadcasting Convention, Copenhagen, 1948, to which the Copenhagen Plan is annexed. It has not yet been established that the Russian stations which are interfering with the B.B.C. Home Service are within the European broadcasting area and thus within the scope of the Convention. My right hon. Friend has not yet received a reply to his Department's representations to the Soviet Administration.

Sweet Manufacturers (Sugar)

asked the Minister of Food what was the total allocation of sugar to sweet manufacturers during 1949 or other convenient period.

British Army (Recruits, Wycombe)

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of recruits in the Wycombe area to the Army, within the last year.

Between 1st January and 22nd November, 1950, 35 recruits were enlisted through the Army recruiting organisation in the Wycombe area.

British Consulates, China

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British consulates are open and functioning in China.

Roads (Cycle Tracks)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make it obligatory on all pedal cyclists to use the cycle tracks on roads where such tracks are in existence.

I prefer at present to rely on the voluntary co-operation of cyclists and to encourage them to make full use of cycle tracks in accordance with the Highway Code.

Cameroons Development Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that thousands of pounds have been spent recently on the purchase by the Cameroons Development Corporation of condemned launches; that no purchases or shipments of native-grown bananas have been made since May, 1940, although representations have been made to the Governor; why the chairman retaliated on members of the staff for calling a meeting for discussions with the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West, although he knew that the meeting had been arranged; and, in view of the widespread dissatisfaction amongst the staff, if he will set up a full inquiry into the Corporation's present management.

I have referred these matters to the Acting Governor and will write to my hon. Friend when 1 have his reply.

Malaya (Medical Officers)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the establishment for medical officers in each of the States and Settlements of Malaya; and the present number of European and other medical officers, respectively, employed in each State or Settlement.

The required particulars are as follow:

Category or State SettlementEstablishmentNumber of Europeans employedNumber of Asians employed
Federal Headquarters52Nil
Federal Institutions732123
Negri Sembilan22610
There are, in addition to the number quoted in columns 3 and 4 above, 15 European and 14 Asian officers at present on leave.