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Written Answers

Volume 484: debated on Friday 2 March 1951

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday, 2nd March, 1951

Royal Air Force

Craftsmen

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many civilian hourly rated aircraft mechanics are employed at 19 Maintenance Unit, Royal Air Force, St. Athan; how many of these are registered dilutees; and how many were formerly so registered who are now classified as craftsmen.

The number of metal working craftsmen employed on the repair and modification of aircraft at No. 19 Maintenance Unit, St. Athan, is 239 of whom 104 are registered dilutees. The number of craftsmen recognised as fully skilled who were formerly registered as dilutees is four.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he can say how many civilian hourly rated aircraft mechanics are employed at 20 Maintenance Unit, Royal Air Force, Aston Down; how many of these are registered dilutees; and how many were formerly so registered who are now classified as craftsmen.

The number of metal working craftsmen employed on the repair and modification of aircraft at No. 20 Maintenance Unit, Aston Down, is 227 of whom 117 are registered dilutees. The number of craftsmen recognised as fully skilled who were formerly registered as dilutees is 12.

Inoculations

asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the nature of the new kind of inoculation proposed to be used at certain Royal Air Force camps; how long a time must elapse between each inoculation; how many inoculations there are in all; what proof has been provided that this inoculation does what is claimed for it; whether there have been any bad results from its use; and whether personnel are told that all vaccination and inoculation is voluntary in the Royal Air Force.

The "new" inoculation introduced by the R.A.F. is a combination of two well-tried immunising agents, TAB vaccine and anti-tetanus toxoid; it is named TABT. Two injections are given initially, at a few weeks' interval, and one injection annually thereafter or on first arrival in an overseas command. No further proof has been sought of the proven efficacy of TAB vaccine or tetanus toxoid and the medical authorities are satisfied that they can be given together without harm or loss of effect. No bad results have been reported from the use of this substance. All ranks are reminded periodically that vaccination and all inoculations are voluntary.

Reservists (Call-Up)

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make arrangements for the space left for the date of birth on the call-up cards to be filled in so that reservists may check that the records are both known and correct.

The warning letters to reservists with reply paid post-cards have now all been despatched. To have inserted the recorded date of birth on each of these post-cards would not only have involved a good deal of additional clerical work, but would also have delayed the despatch of the letters and post-cards.

Fowl Pest

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is now in a position to state what fresh measures he contemplates to prevent the spread of fowl pest.

I do not contemplate any major change in the control measures outlined in the statement that I made on 25th January, though a number of steps have been taken to increase their efficacy and others may be found to be desirable in the light of experience. There is reason to hope that these measures are being effective in checking the spread of fowl pest and that it will be possible to bring the disease under control. My Department will continue to give publicity to the fact that it is still of vital importance that all poultry keepers should take strict precautions to prevent the infection of their flocks; that they should keep a close watch for any sign of illness amongst their birds; and that they should immediately report any suspicious symptoms to the authorities.

Fish (Price Tickets)

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the present lack of uniformity of practice and the concern of housewives in this matter, he will consult with the fishmongering trade with a view to ensuring that prices of fish on sale are always displayed.

Many fishmongers already display price tickets and are well aware that it is in the best interests of their trade to do so. Some months before price control was lifted one of the trade associations offered special price tickets for sale to their members and these are still available. The practice of displaying prices has increased during the past year, and I do not think that any action on my part is necessary to emphasise to the trade the desirability of continuing and extending it.

Coke Breeze (Domestic Supplies)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if coke breeze is available for domestic use in unrationed quantities; and to what other uses it is being put.

Coke breeze is not subject to restriction, and is available for domestic use. The demand for domestic purposes is comparatively small, by far the largest users being electricity generating stations and industrial consumers generally.

Scotland (Exchequer Grant)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the dissatisfaction felt in many areas in Scotland regarding the operation of the Exchequer equalisation grant; and if he is prepared to set up an inquiry into the position.

I have received a number of representations about the working of the Exchequer equalisation grant arrangements, and I have the whole position under very close review.

National Finance

Workshops For The Blind

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he will direct the purchasing Departments to secure as much as possible of their requirements from the Blind Workshops located in the several parts of the country; and thus enable such workshops to retain the employees on full time.

It is the Government's settled policy that purchasing Departments should give to certain types of non-profit making institutions, including workshops for the blind, the opportunity to manufacture the widest possible range of their requirements. Fresh instructions to this effect have recently been issued. It is neither practicable nor desirable to require Departments to give more favourable treatment to one type of nonprofit making institution as against another.

Japanese Assets, United Kingdom

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the present gross value of Japanese assets held by the Custodian of Enemy Property; what claims and other commitments have still to be met out of those assets; and what is the estimated total amount of such claims and other commitments.

The gross value of Japanese assets in this country is about £2 million; but this gross figure is subject to a number of claims for liens and set-offs which have not been fully investigated. The net value is estimated at approximately £1–1¼ million. No decision has yet been taken about the final disposal of these assets and about what, if any, claims and commitments are to be met out of them.

Hearing Aids

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the long delay in supplying hearing aids under the National Health Service, he will consider allowing persons, who have to buy the same for business purposes, some taxation relief.

Royal Navy

Hms "Broadsword" (Fire)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether an inquiry has yet been held into the cause of the outbreak of fire on board the destroyed H.M.S. "Broadsword" on Sunday 14th January, 1951; and what was the result of the inquiry.

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, 14th January, some bales of waste and canvas awnings were discovered to be smouldering in the tiller flat of H.M.S. "Broadsword" and an ordinary seaman was found lying unconscious near the fire. I regret to say, despite every effort, it proved impossible to revive him. Death was found by the coroner to be due to misadventure. The medical evidence was to the effect that the rating died from carbon monoxide poisoning and there were no signs of injury on the body. The incident was investigated by the Gillingham police and a naval Board of Inquiry was also convened. This Board has since reported that in their view the rating's death was accidental and that there was insufficient evidence to determine the cause of the fire.

Wrns Officers (Training)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary of the Admiralty whether he will make a further statement on training available for officers and ratings of the Reserve of the Women's Royal Naval Service.

Voluntary courses are being held during 1951 for cypher and signals, administrative, quarters, safety equipment, secretarial, pay and cash, clothing and mess caterer officers. There is no training for ratings of the Reserve.

Education, West Riding

asked the Minister of Education what reason is given by the West Riding County Council for its failure to adopt the standard figures of maintenance and financial principles set out in Administrative Memorandum No. 332.

The reasons given are the need for economy and the conclusion reached by the authority that the scales and allowances proposed will entail no hardship on parents or scholars.

British Army (Warlike Stores, Sale)

asked the Secretary of State for War what warlike stores have been sold to other Government Departments and miscellaneous organisations, respectively, during the current financial year; what warlike stores he has estimated in Vote 7 Z (4) will be sold to other Government Departments and miscellaneous organisations, respectively; and if he will name the purchasing Departments and organisations.

It is estimated that the value of warlike stores, which includes vehicles, sold by the War Department during the current financial year to other Government Departments and miscellaneous organisations will be £700,000 and £50,000 respectively. Corresponding figures for the next financial year are £750,000 and £30,000. The principal purchasing Departments and organisations are the Air Ministry, Ministry of Supply, Admiralty, Foreign Office, N.A.A.F.I., National Rifle Associations and Cadet Forces.