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Written Answers

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1951

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 10th April, 1951

British Army

Troops, Korea

41.

asked the Secretary of State for War when 5773519 Lance-Corporal E. Johnston, 1st Gloucester Regiment, was declared unfit for further service in the Korean campaign; upon what date he left for Britain; and what is the present whereabouts of this soldier.

Lance-Corporal E. Johnson left Singapore for the United Kingdom on 27th March and arrived at the R.A.F. hospital, Wroughton, on 5th April. He was transferred on 6th April to Cambridge Military Hospital, Alder-shot. A cable has been sent to Korea asking when this soldier was declared unfit for service in that theatre. As soon as I have a reply I will write to my hon. Friend.

84.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can now make a further statement on whether Regular soldiers serving in Korea will have the normal overseas tour of three years reduced in view of the special hardship suffered in this sphere of activities.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) on 3rd April. The length of tour of soldiers serving in Korea is at present under examination.

92.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the letter from the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes, containing evidence from senior officers in Korea of the fact that the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute's services are still inadequate, prices being high and stocks poor; what steps he has taken to rectify this matter; what further steps are contemplated; and if he will make a full statement thereon.

I have referred this evidence to the Commander of the British Commonwealth Forces in Japan and have asked for a comprehensive report. When this is received I will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

Officers (Acting Rank Pay)

85.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the latest Army Order, dated 1st April, cancelling all acting rank pay for officers, is a deterrent to young and keen men and may affect their continuing in Army service; and if he will take steps to see that this order is modified.

I have no knowledge of the Army Order referred to and would be grateful if the hon. Member would let me have further details to enable me to identify the order he has in mind.

Allowances

91.

asked the Secretary of State for War what recent increases have been made to the allowances granted to defray all the costs of movement of station.

Save for minor increases in the maximum indemnification admissible in respect of rent liability, there have been no recent increases in these allowances.

Class Z Reserve

93.

asked the Secretary of State for War why it has been decided to reduce the Class Z call-up for this year by 39,000 men.

The figure of 235,000 represented the maximum number of reservists which it was originally estimated could be trained in 1951. Following further detailed examination and consideration of such factors as the availability of accommodation and administrative facilities, the number to be called up will fall somewhat below the maximum figure.

94.

asked the Secretary of State for War why the application by Mr. F. W. Dean, 58, Heath Street, Dartford, supported by a doctor's certificate, to have his 15 days training period as a Class Z reservist postponed from 27th May to 10th June on the grounds that his wife is due to become confined during that period, there is a son of three years in poor health, and they are without relatives nearby to assist, has been turned down.

Reservists have been selected for training with the units for which their qualifications make them most suitable. These units are carrying out training at fixed periods throughout the year and if alternative dates for training were granted it would mean that a reservist would have to train with another unit. This would defeat one of the main purposes of the training, which is that men should serve together in the units to which they would be posted in the event of mobilisation. Alternative training dates can therefore be granted only in a very small number of most exceptional cases. In Mr. Dean's case it was not possible to offer alternative dates but, in the light of the additional information which has been furnished by my hon. Friend, instructions have now been issued cancelling Mr. Dean's call-up for training this year.

Civilian Rifle Clubs

97.

asked the Secretary of State for War if special arrangements are being made to enable the members of the recognised full bore and small bore rifle clubs to take an appropriate part in our home defence.

The relationship between civilian rifle clubs and the Reserve Forces, Territorial Army and Cadet Forces is under consideration.

Stores And Supplies (Losses)

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to bring to the notice of commanding officers the 154 cases of losses summarised in Appendix I of the Army Appropriation Account by the Comptroller and Auditor General amounting to £2,059,490 with a view to preventing a recurrence of such losses.

In March, 1950, the attention of all commanders and general officers commanding was specially drawn to the considerable losses then recorded, and they were requested to bring to the notice of commanding officers their special responsibilities in connection with public stores and supplies as laid down in King's Regulations and the relevant Service regulations, and to take all other appropriate action to effect an improvement in the immediate future. As a general rule, all losses over £50 are investigated by courts of inquiry and consideration is given in each case to responsibility for the loss and measures necessary to prevent a recurrence.

National Finance

Budget (Booklet)

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish a short popular version of the Budget this year.

It is not intended to publish a popular booklet this year but it is hoped to continue the practice of distributing, with Income Tax forms, a summarised account in diagram form of the main items of revenue and expenditure.

Belgium (Double Taxation)

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is yet in a position to make any statement as to the progress with the Belgian Government towards a double taxation agreement with that country.

We have now obtained the full text of the new Belgian tax law, and I am hoping that negotiations with Belgium will shortly be resumed.

Unemployment Benefit Fund

51.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total reserve of the Unemployment Benefit Fund; in what securities it is invested; and what sums are invested in each security.

Under the National Insurance Act, 1946, the Unemployment Benefit Fund was absorbed into the two National Insurance Funds. I would refer the hon. Member to the statutory accounts relating to the latter funds which are laid before Parliament annually.

Building Materials And Housing Fund

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposes to close the Building Materials and Housing Fund under Clause 2 (4) of the Building Materials and Housing Act, 1945.

The Fund will be closed as soon as all outstanding accounts have been settled. Meanwhile, no further commitments are being entered into.

Purchase Tax

56.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of rising prices, he will introduce as a temporary measure a fixed Purchase Tax, as opposed to the existing percentage system.

United Kingdom Gifts And Loans

57.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amounts made in gifts and loans by the United Kingdom to countries in need of reconstruction and development in Europe, the Common wealth and elsewhere, during the same period as the United Kingdom received 2,694,000,000 dollars under the European Recovery Programme.

It is impracticable to base an answer on whether particular countries concerned are in need of reconstruction and development. During the financial years 1948–49 to 1950–51 the United Kingdom made gifts and loans to other countries totalling £290 million. This figure includes net drawing rights exercised on the United Kingdom under the Intra-European Payments Schemes and the use of our initial debit balance under the European Payments Union, but excludes contributions and subscriptions to U.N.R.R.A. and other international agencies. It also excludes sums amounting to £55 million in respect of colonial war damage compensation which are promised and to be made available as required.

National Income Estimates

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will explain the disparities between the totals for the year 1948 shown in table 26 of the Economic White Paper for 1951 and figures for the same year in the equivalent table, which is table 13, of the White Paper of 1950 and figures for the same year in the equivalent table, which is table 20, of the White Paper for 1949; and why no explanation of these changes is offered in the latest White Paper.

As explained in previous years, national income estimates are regularly revised from year to year as more complete information becomes available. The main reason, however, for the disparities referred to is a change in the definitions of certain technical terms used. These questions of definition are too complex to be discussed in the Economic Survey but full notes are given in the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, which was published yesterday. If the analysis of gross domestic capital formation in this year's National Income White Paper (Cmd. 8203) is compared with that given last year (Cmd. 7933), it will be seen that stock appreciation and certain types of investment abroad by British companies are now both excluded.

Military Operations, Korea (Cost)

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimate of the expenditure incurred by this country on military operations in Korea up to the end of March, 1951.

The extra expenditure which has been met by the United Kingdom up to the end of March on the operations in Korea is roughly estimated at £7 million.

Issue Department (Profits)

62.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the annual profit of the Issue Department of the Bank of England since the bank was nationalised.

The annual profits of the Issue Department are under the present law paid into the Exchange Equalisation Account. It is not in the public interest to publish details of the transactions in that Account.

Indonesia (Double Taxation)

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he is taking or proposes to take in order to conclude a double taxation agreement with the Government of Indonesia.

Preliminary discussions have taken place with representatives of Indonesia and we have put forward a draft agreement for consideration on which we are awaiting the Indonesian reactions.

Argentina (British Interests)

63.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ensure that the interests of the British investor in the Argentine are safeguarded by the terms of any future agreement.

The interests of British investors are certainly being borne in mind in the present negotiations with the Argentine.

Electricity Industry (Investment)

66.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what allocations of capital to be spent in 1951–52 for the generation and distribution of electricity have been made to the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and the British Electricity Authority, respectively.

As all civil investment programmes are being re-examined in the light of the higher defence programme, I regret that I am not yet in a position to give the desired information.

British Oil Companies (Operations)

69.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will break down the analysis in item 12 of Command Paper No. 8065 to show clearly the cost of, and the revenue accruing from, the overseas operations of British oil companies.

No. Such information derives from confidential returns by a comparatively small number of companies, and it would not be right to divulge it.

Government Departments

Temporary Clerks

60.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has set an age limit whereby temporary clerks are debarred from being placed on the established strength of the Civil Service as clerical assistants until they are over 45 years of age.

I assume that the hon. and gallant Member is referring to the current scheme for the establishment of temporary clerks as clerical assistants. In adopting a lower age limit of 45 for this scheme the Government is applying, in a very suitable part of the Civil Service, its policy of encouraging the employment of the older age groups of the population. Registered disabled persons are eligible even if younger than 45.

Passes

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Ministries whose London headquarters still operate the pass system of entry and exit so far as members of the general public are concerned.

Industrial Employees (Leave)

61.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will bring the annual leave for industrial civil servants into line with that granted in industry.

The annual leave granted to Government industrial employees slightly exceeds that granted to the majority of employees in industry, but I do not propose to reduce it.

Sick Pay

70.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why civil servants are not allowed to receive unabated sick pay in addition to their full sickness benefits under the National Health Scheme.

Because it would be anomalous if civil servants were to receive more money for being sick than for being at work.

Typewriters

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what proportion of typewriters in Government offices are now of British manufacture.

Paper Economy

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will give an assurance that he has made strong representations to all Government Departments in regard to economy in the use of paper, especially for luxury publications for free distribution.

I have requested Departments to exercise the utmost economy in the use of paper in all forms, including publications for free distribution. If the hon. and gallant Member has a particular instance in mind perhaps he will inform me.

Sterling Balances (Releases)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total amount which has been made available by the United Kingdom in the form of releases from the sterling balances, loans, gifts and materials to India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Siam, French Indo-China and Indonesia since 1945.

The amounts to be released from the sterling balances of individual holders since restriction of these accounts began are given in the various published Agreements with the countries concerned. As regards the actual use of sterling balances, the White Paper on the Colombo Plan (Cmd. 8080) states that India, Pakistan and Ceylon drew upon their balances to finance their deficits on current account in the years 1946–49 to the extent of about £340 million. There was no significant drawing on sterling balances by the other countries concerned. Loans and gifts, whether in cash or in kind, to the countries in question since 1945 amounted to some £140 million.

Trade And Commerce

Tariff Conference, Torquay

72.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can now give any information regarding the results of the Torquay Conference.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) on the 22nd March.

Nationalised Industries (Exports)

73.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state, during the five years ended 31st December, 1950, what percentage of exports were produced and sold under private enterprise and by the nationalised industries, respectively; and what were their respective values.

The contribution of nationalised industries to United Kingdom exports is mainly an indirect one which cannot accurately be measured.

Softwood Prices

74 and 77.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) to what extent the price of soft timber has risen since the controls on such timber were partially relaxed;(2) what approaches he has made to the trade organisation to endeavour to restrict the rise in the price of timber for housing needs.

Since the statutory maximum prices ruling up to the 28th February this year were fixed in April, 1950, overseas softwood prices, like those of most other raw materials, have risen fast, and in many cases freight rates have shown large increases. Timber Control was therefore selling below cost during the period, preceding the revocation of the Imported Softwood Prices Order, 1950, as amended on 1st March, 1951. Prices are now necessarily related to the current costs of public and private buyers alike, and it is too early to say at what level they are likely to settle down in the new conditions. There is, however, no evidence that any part of the increase in current softwood prices is attributable to the measure of private import which is now permitted.My right hon. Friend received from representatives of the softwood timber trade assurances that their selling prices would not contain a higher profit margin than is reasonable in present market conditions. The Timber Trade Federation of the United Kingdom have also agreed, at his suggestion, to set up a special committee, including representatives of the major consuming interests, to deal with any price and distribution problems that may arise.

Trade Commissioners (Selection Board)

75.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give the names of the members of the selection board for the appointment of trade commissioners and assistant trade commissioners.

For trade commissioners, the Principal Establishment Officer and an Under-Secretary from the Commercial Relations and Exports Department of the Board of Trade, with a senior member of the Establishment Department. For assistant trade commissioners a senior member of the Establishment Department with other officers from the Establishment Department and from the Commercial Relations and Exports Department.

Decorated Pottery (Home Supplies)

78.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can yet give any indications as to when it will be possible to permit to some extent the sale of decorated pottery in the home market.

No. In view of our continuing need to earn dollars I am afraid I see no prospect of allowing the sale of decorated pottery in the home market beyond the small amount of export rejects and frustrated exports already available.

Brazil (British Debts)

80.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the continuing difficulty of British traders in securing payment of outstanding debts due from Brazil; and what steps he proposes to take in this matter.

Yes. His Majesty's Government are disturbed at these delays which seem to constitute a recurring problem. There has, however, for some time been close consultation between His Majesty's Representative at Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian authorities about ways and means of expediting payment and we hope that the situation will become easier. There was a considerable improvement last spring and we hope that there may again be an improvement in the near future.

Cuban Sugar And Tobacco

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now make a statement on the negotiations which were carried on with the Government of Cuba regarding sugar and tobacco.

I am not in a position to make any statement about the trade negotiations with Cuba since they are still in progress. I can, however, assure the House that His Majesty's Government will continue to have full regard in these negotiations to the Commonwealth interest in this matter. If any agreement is concluded, full details will be made available to the House in the usual way.

Scrap Metals

82.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what controls there are on the export of scrap iron and other scrap metals.

Exports of scrap iron and other scrap metals are subject to export licensing under the Export of Goods (Control) Consolidation Order, 1950, No. 2138.

Hairdressers (Supplies)

83.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the price-fixing mechanism of the Hair dressers' Trade Association involves the withholding of supplies of hairdressers' sundries from hairdressers failing to ob serve the association's minimum price levels; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that any hairdresser who refuses to raise his minimum price to 1s. 6d. in accordance with the association's recent decision, will be enabled to receive his normal supply of sundries.

We are not aware of the existence of any arrangement for the withholding of supplies from hairdressers, such as that described by my hon. Friend; but if he has any evidence of such a practice we will look into it.

Herring Exports

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the amounts of cured and freshed herring likely to be absorbed by overseas markets during the coming summer season.

I am afraid that I could not hazard a guess as to what our exports of herring are likely to be this summer.

Copyright Law (Committee)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to make a statement about a review of the law of copyright.

Yes. After consulting my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor I have decided to appoint a Committee with the following terms of reference:

"To consider and report whether any, and if so what, changes are desirable in the law relating to copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works with particular regard to technical developments and to the revised International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works signed at Brussels in June, 1948, and to consider and report on related matters."
I am glad to say that the noble Marquess Lord Reading has consented to act as Chairman. The following have accepted my invitation to serve on the Committee:

  • Dr. T. E. Allibone,
  • Mr. J. L. Blake,
  • Mr. George Bristow Cooke, D.F.C.,
  • Miss B. A. Godwin,
  • Sir Henry Gregory, K.C.M.G., C.B.,
  • Mr. E. M. Hugh-Jones,
  • Mr. J. P. Lamb,
  • Mr. F. E. Skone James,

The Secretary to the Committee will be Mr. H. W. Clarke, of the Patent Office.

Housing

Temporary Dwellings

98.

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning if he will, in the present housing shortage, take steps to discourage local authorities from preventing the occupation of huts or temporary dwellings, including caravans, unless they are dangerous to life or health.

I think that, as a general rule, I can safely leave such matters to the discretion of the local authorities.

Lettings (Premium)

99.

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning whether he is aware of the decision of the Old Street Police Court on 2nd March that a local authority has no power to prose cute for the charging of illegal premiums for lettings; and whether, in view of the practical impossibility for the tenant involved to institute such prosecutions, he will consider taking action to ensure that it is possible effectively to enforce the law against charging premiums for lettings of house property.

Yes. This decision is at present the subject of an application to the High Court and I propose to await the result of that application before considering what action need be taken.

New Towns

100.

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning whether he has considered the necessity for setting up a small joint committee of the borough councils in the London and Greater London area and the new towns corporations to compile a list of persons willing to move out to new towns, and to administer the placing of applicants from these lists; and if he will have inquiries made into this matter at once.

I am considering this whole question, and will bear my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind.

Requisitioning, Erpingham

102.

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning if he is aware of the decision of the Erpingham Rural District Council, Norfolk, not to requisition 15 empty houses recently reported to the council by members; and if he will make a statement as to what advice he proposes to give to the council in this matter.

I have no information regarding the first part of the Question, and perhaps my hon. Friend will let me have particulars.

Private Building

103.

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning whether he is prepared in special circumstances to vary the building ratio between a local authority and private building ratio; and to what circumstances he accords special consideration.

Yes. On the second part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) on 20th March, 1951.

Exchequer Grants

104.

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning what amount he has set aside in the current financial year to be used as subsidy or Government contribution for local government or other housing.

The figures are £49,568,500 for England and Wales and £10,717,000 for Scotland.

Site Development Costs

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning the average cost of site preparation, by development of land with roads, sewers, water, gas and electricity and other services, including street lighting; and the estimated number of labour hours which it is necessary to spend upon constructional works outside the actual perimeter of a new house on new estate developments.

Festival Of Britain

Opening

105.

asked the Minister of Works whether the Festival of Britain will be opened on the advertised date.

The Festival of Britain will be opened by His Majesty The King on Thursday, 3rd May, as already announced.

111.

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that invitations to Members of Parliament to visit the Festival of Britain on 4th May, asked for a reply by 5th April, whereas the invitation was not received till 6th April; and what steps he proposes to take to rectify this error.

112.

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that invitations to Members of Parliament to attend the opening of the Festival of Britain received on 6th April requested an answer by 5th April; and what arrangements he is making in these circumstances.

113.

asked the Minister of Works why the invitation to hon. Members of Parliament to attend the opening of the Festival of Britain, posted at 5.15 p.m. on 5th April, indicated that if acceptance was not received by 5th April it would be necessary to re-allot admission cards.

The date should have been amended to 12th April and I very much regret that in a number of cases this was not done.

Festival Gardens (Accountants)

asked the Minister of Works the name of the firm of chartered accountants appointed to audit the accounts of the Festival Gardens; and who recommended this firm.

Yes. The firm of chartered accountants appointed to audit the accounts of Festival Gardens Ltd. is Messrs. Pannell, Crewdson and Hardy. The firm was recommended to the Board of Festival Gardens Ltd. by the Company's solicitors, Messrs. Linklater and Paines and was appointed by the Board at their meeting on 25th November, 1949. If, however, the hon. Member wishes to know the name of the firm carrying out the investigation into the reasons why the financial commitments of the Company have exceeded the estimates, it is Messrs. Moores, Carson and Watson.

Ministry Of Works

Albert Memorial

106.

asked the Minister of Works what is the cost per day of the scaffolding round the Albert Memorial; and how many workmen are engaged on the work.

Buildings, London

107.

asked the Minister of Works whether he will cause to be removed the dilapidated tin building, requisitioned by his Department, at the corner of Bread Street and Queen Victoria Street, E.C.4.

This building is at present in use by the Postmaster-General for garage purposes. As soon as other premises can be found the question of surrender of the site and demolition of the building will be considered as a matter of urgency.

asked the Minister of Works what apartments for residential occupation are included in the new Ministry building in Savile Row; what is the estimated rental value of such apartments; and for whose occupation such apartments are intended.

Mobile Labour Force

108.

asked the Minister of Works whether, in view of the needs of the defence programme, he will reconsider his decision to disband the Mobile Labour Force.

As at present advised I see no need to reconsider my decision that the Mobile Labour Force should not undertake any further commitments.

Building Workers, Cheltenham

asked the Minister of Works how many building workers in the Cheltenham area are employed respectively on the building of new houses, on industrial buildings and new schools, and on repairs, decorations and alterations to houses and other buildings.

The figures are given in the following tables, first for the area of the Cheltenham borough, and secondly for a wider area comprising the boroughs of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, the urban district of Charlton Kings and Cirencester, and the rural districts of Cheltenham, Cirencester, North Cotswold and Northleach:

Type of workCheltenham boroughWider area
New houses293979
New industrial buildings26141
New schools2432
Repairs, decorations and alterations to houses477993
All other repairs, decorations and alterations5921,061
TOTAL1,4123,206

The figures relate to contractors' labour, but in the case of housing they also include the directly employed labour of the local authorities. In the Cheltenham borough this amounted to two men on new housing work and 34 men on other housing work; in the wider area the corresponding figures were nine and 89 respectively.

Staff, India

110.

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to reduce the staff which his Department employs in India.

An inspection of the work and staff of my Department in India has just been completed. The inspecting officer's report is now under consideration.

Civil Defence (Class Z Reservists)

114.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement as to the conditions under which Class Z reservists can enrol in the Civil Defence services, indicating the age and categories of Civil Defence in which they will be accepted for service.

As regards the Civil Defence Corps, I would refer my hon. Friend to the detailed reply which my right hon. Friend gave on 25th May, last, to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Captain Crowder). The conditions of eligibility for the Auxiliary Fire Service for Class Z reservists are identical with those for the Rescue and Pioneer Sections of the Corps.

Anglo-Polish Trade Agreement

115.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Polish Government, in accordance with their obligations under the Anglo-Polish Trade and Finance Agreement of 1949, duly paid on 31st March the sum of £400,000 into the special account from which payments are to be made in respect of agreed United Kingdom claims.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my reply yesterday to the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor).

Steel Supplies

117.

asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware of the delays now being experienced by builders in obtaining steel for essential and approved buildings; and if he will take steps to relieve this situation.

Yes. The Government are examining possible arrangements for dealing with shortages of steel for essential purposes.

Employment, Lanarkshire

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons registered as unemployed in the Kilmarnock and Newmilns areas at most recent available date; how many have been unemployed for 18 months and over; and how many of this latter category are over 50 years of age.

The total numbers of unemployed persons on the registers of the Kilmarnock and Newmilns Employment Exchanges at 12th March, 1951, were 336 and 51 respectively, of whom 27 and 7 had been continuously unemployed for more than 12 months. The returns do not distinguish the numbers who have been unemployed for more than 18 months. The analysis according to age as well as duration of unemployment is obtained only at six-monthly intervals and the latest date for which figures are available is 11th December, 1950. The numbers who at that date had been on the registers of the Kilmarnock and Newmilns Employment Exchanges for more than 12 months were 30 and 8 respectively, of whom 15 and 3 were over 50 years of age.

Fruit Sales (Profit)

asked the Minister of Food (1) what profit was made by his Department on the purchase and sale of fresh fruit and vegetables imported during 1950;(2) what profit was made by his Department on the purchase and sale of apples imported during 1950.

As my Department's annual trading accounts are not prepared on a calendar year basis, it is only possible to estimate the profit on sales of fresh fruit imported during 1950. This estimate is £1,771,000, made up of apples, £1,455,000; other fresh fruit, £316,000. There were no Ministry imports of fresh vegetables during 1950.

Post Office (Wage Rates)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will give details of the 180 per cent. increase in Post Office wage charges, as compared with pre-war.

I am glad of the opportunity to clarify this matter. The present average wage rates of Post Office staff are 180 per cent. of the pre-war average; the increase is 80 per cent.

Transport

Haulage Firms (Compensation)

asked the Minister of Transport when a final settlement is likely to be reached in regard to the compensation due to small road haulage firms which were taken over by the Transport Commission 18 months ago.

It is not practicable to state by what date final settlements are likely to be completed in respect of small road haulage firms which have been taken over by the British Transport Commission. The speed with which compensation can be assessed depends to a large extent on the co-operation of the transferor who must furnish accounts and other necessary information concerning his past results up to the date of transfer. Final settlement of compensation due to small undertakings also depends on agreement being reached between the two parties; in the absence of agreement reference to the Transport Arbitration Tribunal is necessary. The British Transport Commission assure me that they have taken all possible steps within their control to expedite the settlement of compensation in respect of all road haulage concerns which they have taken over. If the hon. Member has any specific case in mind I would be glad to bring it to the attention of the Commission.

Shelter, Witham

asked the Minister of Transport if his divisional office has now authorised the building of a shelter in Newland Street, Witham, Essex, in connection with the Festival of Britain, details of which were submitted in January; and what was the cause of the delay in dealing with this matter.

I have no power to authorise the placing of this shelter on the highway, but my divisional officer indicated last month that I would raise no objection provided that it was set back a proper distance from the main carriageway. Various inquiries and consultations were necessary for the proper consideration of the proposal.