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Written Answers

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 18 April 1951

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 18th April, 1951

West Indies (Sugar Workers' Welfare)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what sums of money out of the price paid by His Majesty's Government for West Indian sugar since the recent negotiations has been set aside for the Labour Welfare Fund; and for what purposes this money has been expended in the different West Indian territories.

As a result of consultations in 1947 it was decided that three reserve funds, of which the Labour Welfare Fund is one, should be set up in each of the Colonies concerned. Payments at the following rates are being made at present under local legislation into Welfare Funds for sugar workers:

  • Antigua, St. Lucia, British Guiana, Trinidad—10s. per ton of sugar exported.
  • St. Kitts—20s. per ton of sugar exported.
  • Jamaica—5s. per ton of sugar exported.
  • Barbados—9s. 10d. per ton of sugar produced.
Expenditure from these funds is being directed to the following purposes:

Antigua. Thirty-three cottages have been built for sugar workers, and loans totalling £36,000 have been issued to other workers for erecting their own houses.

St. Kitts. The Fund Committee has decided to concentrate on rural housing for sugar workers. £4,800 is being spent for building experimental houses, £1,458 for sanitary latrines in individual houses, and £250 has been loaned for lighters to transport sugar-cane from Nevis to St. Kitts.

St. Lucia. A scheme for malaria control in sugar areas has been implemented.

British Guiana. Expenditure has been sanctioned for the development of 24 areas for rehousing workers on sugar estates, and for the sinking of artesian wells to supply pure water. Loans are being made to workers for building their own houses. Part of the cost for training 12 persons for social welfare work on sugar estates is also being met from the Fund.

Jamaica. The erection of 17 medical clinics has been approved, nine of which have been completed, and extensions have been made to four existing clinics. Eight ambulances have been bought and two more have been ordered. Nine resident nurses have been appointed. Dentists have been provided for eight clinics. Water supplies and electric light have been provided for estates and community centres. Grants have been made for projectors and for a mobile film unit for educational and recreational purposes in sugar areas. Grants have been made to sugar estates to meet part of the cost of constructing cottages for the workers.

Trinidad. No disbursements have been made from the Fund; but it is intended to use it to make loans to sugar workers for the erection of houses, and to assist in the promotion of social services.

Barbados. Loans are made to sugar workers for erecting or repairing houses. Playing fields and community halls have been constructed.

The sugar price is negotiated annually by the Ministry of Food with all Commonwealth producers. The 1951 price is £32 17s. 6d. a ton. The 1950 price was £30 10s. a ton.

British Guiana (Development Plan)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made with the British Guiana ten-year development plan.

My right hon. Friend is sending my hon. Friend a copy of a paper presented to the British Guiana Legislative Council, which summarises the progress achieved in implementing the Colony's ten-year development plan and includes proposals for revising it.

Coloured Workers, Liverpool


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the unrest among the unemployed coloured workers in the Liverpool area, he will make arrangements for the Colonial Office Advisory Committee in Liverpool to meet at once.

I know that there is concern about employment among these workers. An urgent review is being undertaken of the possibilities of employment for each man affected and this is expected to be completed within a very few weeks. In the meantime action is proceeding about individual cases. As soon as the necessary material has been assembled, I will ask the Chairman of the Committee to consider calling an early meeting to discuss it.

Northern Rhodesia

General Election, 1948


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the total registered electorate of Northern Rhodesia at the time of the last General Election; what percentage of the electorate voted; and whether he will give details of the votes cast for each of the elected members now serving on the Governor's Executive Council.

The last general election in Northern Rhodesia was held in August, 1948. The Revised Register for 1947 showed a total registered electorate of 5,276 persons; 3,405 or about 64 per cent. of this number voted in the six constituencies where polling was held. In the remaining four constituencies candidates were returned unopposed. All three of the elected members of Legislative Council who serve on Executive Council were so returned.

Legislative Council (African Representation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Africans in Northern Rhodesia are estimated to be represented by the two African members of the Legislative Council.

The two African members of the Legislative Council are selected by the African Representative Council from among its own members. This Council is representative of the whole African community. The African population is estimated to be in the region of 1,800,000.

Nchanga Mine (Dispute)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the threatened strike at the Nchanga Copper Mine in Northern Rhodesia arising from the dismissal of a clerk who is an officer of the Mineworkers' Union; and if he will make a full statement on the matter.

Early in March this year a dispute arose between the Nchanga branch of the African Mineworkers' Union and the management of Nchanga Mine over a notice of dismissal given by the management to one of their employees who was also the local treasurer of the Union. The grounds for this were that he had failed to carry out his duties properly. The Union at first alleged victimisation, and at their request a conciliator was appointed. Meetings were held on the invitation of the conciliator, between the Union and the management, and the latter made offers which were rejected. The Union later withdrew their allegation of victimisation, and since, under the terms of the agreement between the Union and the Mining Companies, conciliation is not to be invoked over individual cases unless there is an allegation of victimisation, the management refused the Union's demand for reconsideration.The Supreme Council of the Union then ordered a strike ballot at Nchanga and on 2nd April the African workers in that mine went on strike. The management were not prepared to negotiate while the strike continued, but the Acting Labour Commissioner had talks with the Union leaders.On 9th and 10th April the Governor in Council received at their request representatives of the Union, and after pointing out that the Union had not properly observed the agreement between the Union and the Mining Company in regard to the calling of a strike, had a full discussion with them. The representatives undertook to consider calling off the strike.Work was resumed at Nchanga on Monday morning. It is reported that the employee whose dismissal was the subject of the dispute is to be engaged as full-time secretary of the Nchanga branch of the Union.

Malaya And Singapore (Price Control)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the intentions of the Government of the Federation and Singapore with regard to price controls and the publication of fixed prices of essential commodities; and to what extent the Federation Government has implemented its promise to establish co-operative shops.

Advisory committees with consumer representation have been established in the Federation of Malaya and in Singapore to study the whole question of anti-inflationary measures. The prices of certain essential commodities are already controlled and the extension of price control to other commodities is under consideration. To supplement formal control, arrangements are in hand for the regular publication of schedules of fair retail prices which have been agreed with local chambers of commerce.A scheme for the rapid expansion of consumer co-operative shops throughout the Federation was announced last month, and over 60 new stores in towns, villages and places of employment are already being established.

Colonial Development Corporation


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he expects to receive the conclusions of the Chairman of the Colonial Development Corporation on the future functions and organisation of the Corporation.

The internal organisation of the Corporation is a matter for the Board but my right hon. Friend is normally kept informed of any major changes. An account of recent changes will be given in the next annual Report of the Corporation. The functions of the Corporation are those specified in the Overseas Resources Development Act.

Food Supplies



asked the Minister of Food for what reasons he agreed that 90 per cent. instead of the former 97 per cent. of the exportable surplus of New Zealand cheese should be purchased by the United Kingdom; and how much cheese this country has lost thereby.

Under the terms of our contract, which runs until 1955, our New Zealand suppliers have the right to reserve a small proportion of their butter and cheese for export to other countries in order to maintain their pre-war markets. The quantity retained is a matter for annual negotiation. Last year the New Zealand Dairy Commission asked for my agreement to increase the proportion to 10 per cent. and in view of the very strong demand they made to me, I felt, in the interests of good relations, that I must accede to their request. As the 10 per cent. applies to the total quantity of butter and cheese, based on butter-fat, it is not possible to state the precise effect on our cheese imports, but under the present agreement the quantity retained may not exceed 12,000 tons a year.


asked the Minister of Food if he has purchased all the cheese that was offered to him or was available from any source during the last two years; and what supplies he has refused owing either to the high price asked or the shortage of currency.

During the last two years my Department has purchased all the cheese suitable for the ration that has been available from Southern Dominion, Canadian and home sources. From the United States we bought enough in 1949 to maintain a two-ounce ration, and in 1950 all that was available—so that we were able to have a three-ounce ration for a short while. The only offer refused on account of price was a small quantity from South Africa. Other types of cheese are, of course, imported by the private trade and sold off the ration.



asked the Minister of Food how much meat he has to provide, per head, for American service personnel in this country.

None. The United States authorities import supplies direct from the United States.

Banana Imports


asked the Minister of Food how the present rate of import of bananas compares with the pre-war rate.

We are hoping to import this year about two-thirds of our average pre-war imports.


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in many abattoirs and slaughterhouses, resulting in unnecessary suffering to animals awaiting slaughter; and if he will now make a statement on the steps he proposes to secure improvement.

I do not agree that there is generally, unnecessary suffering to animals awaiting slaughter except in so far as the process of slaughter is inevitably unpleasant. Certainly many of the premises are ill-sited in urban districts and badly out of date, but often rebuilding is the only remedy and a widespread rebuilding programme is, I am afraid, out of the question at present. We are, however, making such improvements as are within our capacity, including the building of some entirely new slaughterhouses with the most modern equipment.

Post Office

Government Departments


asked the Postmaster-General which Post Office services show a loss on operation after making an allowance for the use of the services by Government Departments at the normal charges.

The main Post Office services which are used by Government Departments and on which losses are incurred are inland printed papers, inland money orders, overseas parcels, local telephone services and inland telegrams. The losses are arrived at after taking credit for the value of the services rendered to other Departments at the normal public rates, except for inland correspondence and money orders, where the credits represent actual costs.


asked the Postmaster-General what steps have been taken by his Department during the past 12 months to press for payment by Government Departments for Post Office services rendered to them.

For a full statement on this Question I would refer the hon. Member to the Departmental Replies to Reports from the Select Committee on Estimates, Session 1950 (H.C. 79 of 1950–51). The Post Office, after consultation with the Treasury, decided to continue the present arrangements for the time being and to reconsider the matter as regards inland telegraph and telephone services when the extra staff entailed can be justified.


asked the Post master-General whether the charges for postal services made against other Departments take accurate account of the number of postal packets despatched in any year by each Department.


asked the Post master-General at what rate sealed postal packets, conforming to the normal regulations for 2½d. letter post, are taken into account against other Departments.

Charges to Departments for inland correspondence taken as a whole are assessed at actual cost.

Postage Rates (Printed Matter)


asked the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been drawn to the effect that the increase in the printed matter postage rates will have upon the expenses of charitable organisations; and whether he is in a position to announce any concessions to such organisations.

I regret that I cannot exempt particular organisations from the liabilities to pay the increased rate.

Harold Hill Estate, Romford


asked the Postmaster-General whether he will provide a sub post office at the south-east part of the new Harold Hill estate, Rom-ford, as this area comprises the shopping centre, and until a sub-post office is provided old-age pensioners will have to continue to walk a mile and cross a busy main road in order to draw their old age pensions; and others living in that area will have similar difficulties in order to avail themselves of the ordinary postal services.

I am looking into the matter and will write to the hon. and gallant Member as quickly as possible.

Air Mail, Germany


asked the Postmaster-General why letters sent by air mail from Bonn, Germany, to London do not reach their destination until the third day after posting.

I am having inquiries made in Germany, and will write to the hon. Member as soon as they are complete.

Telephone Service

Local Calls (Charges)


asked the Postmaster-General if he will consider substituting an extra charge for local telephone calls after three minutes for his proposal to increase all charges for local calls from 2d. to 3d.

No. The majority of local calls from call offices are shorter than three minutes. The additional revenue resulting from my hon. Friend's proposal would be well below that from a 3d. call fee and would be largely offset by extra operating costs.

Applications, Wymondham

asked the Postmaster-General what is the size of the waiting list for telephones in the Wymondham, Norfolk, area; and how many new connections were made in the year 1950.

Broadcasting (Beveridge Report)


asked the Postmaster-General when he expects to be able to announce the Government's conclusions on the Beveridge Report on Broadcasting.


asked the Postmaster-General when he is proposing to announce a decision about broadcasting policy.

I am not yet in a position to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend, the late Lord Privy Seal, on 22nd March.

Royal Air Force

Reserve Aircraft (Storage)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what percentage of the total number of aircraft held in reserve are stored in the open air.

Airfield, Mombasa


asked the Secretary of State for Air why the Royal Air Force airfield at Mombasa is to be sold; and if an alternative is being provided.

This airfield is no longer required for Royal Air Force use in peace-time, and it is proposed to sell the R.A.F. assets on it to the Kenya Government, who already own the land, provided that arrangements can be made for the airfield to be so maintained that it could be used for Service purposes again, in an emergency. It is the intention that the airfield should continue to be used for civil aviation purposes. The question-of providing an alternative does not therefore arise.

Auxiliary Squadrons (Call-Up)


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make a statement regarding the dates of call-up of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons.

Nine squadrons have been called for the period 16th. April to 14th July and the remaining 11 will be called for the period 16th July to 13th October. This follows the plan for call-up which I announced in the House on 26th February.

Flying Scholarships

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in view of the value of the Flying Scholarships Scheme in stimulating interest in the Air Training Corps and in encouraging young men to enter the Royal Air Force as aircrew, he will increase the number of such scholarships.

Yes. In view of the great value of the Scholarship Scheme in this field, I am glad to be able to announce that the number of scholarships to be awarded in the present financial year will be increased to 300.

Civil Aviation (Airway Blue Two)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation why Airway Blue Two crosses the Isle of Arran at a height which is less than the safety height.

The lowest cruising altitude for this sector of Blue Two is specified in paragraph 6 of Appendix A to Notice to Airmen No. 93/51 and is 4,000 feet. This is greater than the safety height over the Isle of Arran.

Overseas Information


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to establish a satisfactory machinery by which to conduct a psychological campaign designed to win the cold war.

The best psychological campaign is to spread the truth and expose Communist untruth. The existing machinery for doing this is adequate, but we are always seeking opportunities to introduce improvements.

Korea (Refugees)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent the refugee problem in South Korea has grown more serious; approximately how many are refugees in this area and how many are being assisted; and whether any consideration has yet been given by the United Nations to the need of extending substantial means for the economic rehabilitation of Korea now and when the present conflict ceases.

It is impossible to estimate accurately the number of refugees or of those being assisted, but we have reason to believe that the refugees number some three million. To this extent the refugee problem has not shown any improvement. Large-scale relief is provided through the military authorities, and a United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency (U.N.K.R.A.) is being planned. This, together with the more stable military situation and the advent of the summer season, should help to alleviate the plight of the refugees, with which His Majesty's Government deeply sympathise.

Argentina (Buenos Aires Transport)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he has taken up to the present in defence of the British interests in Buenos Aires Transport in view of the recent measures taken by the Argentine Government to expedite the liquidation of the Buenos Aires Transport Corporation.

Frequent representations have been made to the Argentine Government. The House has already been assured that the Economic Mission now in Buenos Aires will try to reach a satisfactory settlement of this claim.

Suez Canal Convention


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent His Majesty's Government regard the Constantinople Convention of 1888 as operative with regard to the Suez Canal; and to what extent they regard themselves bound to sustain Article I of that Convention.

As one of the signatories of the Suez Canal Convention, His Majesty's Government regard it as fully operative, and are bound by Article 1 of the Convention, as they are by all its Articles.

Ministry Of Supply (Industrialists)


asked the Minister of Supply what industrialists have joined his Department on a part-time basis; with what firms they are connected; what is their remuneration; and what their function is in his Department.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) on 12th March. These gentlemen are serving in an honorary capacity.

Exports To Commonwealth

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give figures for the last half-yearly period available indicating the volume of United Kingdom exports to Commonwealth countries expressed as a percentage of the volume exported in 1938; and if he will give these figures for the self-governing members of the Commonwealth and for the Colonies, respectively.

The current series of index numbers of volume of United Kingdom exports is based on 1947. Compared with the average for that year, it is estimated that the volume of exports to the Commonwealth as a whole in July-December, 1950, had increased by 87 per cent., to the self-governing members of the Commonwealth by 92 per cent. and to the Colonies by 82 per cent. Only a very rough estimate can be made of changes in the volume of trade between 1938 and 1947. Exports to the Commonwealth as a whole in 1947 were about equal to the 1938 volume; the volume sent to the Colonies was probably about a fifth higher and exports to the self-governing members of the Commonwealth showed a small reduction compared with 1938.

New Zealand (Naval Officers' Claims)

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will investigate the position of the claims made by Royal Naval officers who were on loan to the Royal New Zealand Navy as the delay in settling these claims is causing inconvenience to those concerned.

I have for a considerable time been in touch with the New Zealand Government about the claims in question. Our discussions are still in progress and I am hopeful that it will be possible to reach an agreed settlement soon.

Armed Forces (Awards)

asked the Minister of Defence how many awards have been made to Service volunteers since 1945.

This is a matter which falls within the responsibility of the Service Ministers and I would invite the hon. Member to address separate questions to them.

Royal Navy (Maltese)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many Maltese are at present serving in the Royal Navy and how this number compares with the corresponding figures for 10 years and 20 years ago, respectively.

1,250 at present compared with 1,300 in 1940. Figures for 20 years ago are not available.

Education (School Uniforms)

asked the Minister of Education why he forbids local education authorities contributing to the cost of school uniforms for boys although he permits them to do so for girls.

I am sending the hon. Member a copy of Addendum No. 1 to Circular 210. It was represented to me that, in the case of girls, school uniform must be regarded as a virtual necessity on educational and social grounds. These considerations do not apply to anything like the same extent to boys, for whom I am prepared to admit for grant expenditure on caps and badges only.

Army Camps (Tree-Planting)

asked the Secretary of State for War approximately how many trees were planted by his Department in 1950 to improve the amenity of camps and usefulness of training areas, respectively.

Hollesley Bay Colony (Escapes)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now any further information to give with regard to the number of escapes from Hollesley Bay Colony.

During the first three months of this year there were 31 escapes from Hollesley Bay Colony. This compares with a figure of 60 for the first three months of 1950, and with figures of 22, 29 and 31 for each of the last three quarters of that year. Although the figure for the first three months of this year is considerably better than that for the corresponding period of last year, and also than the figures of 58 and 51 for the last two quarters of 1949, I remain much concerned at the high rate of absconding from Hollesley Bay and am watching the situation closely.

Grain Silo, Haughley

asked the Minister of Works when the grain silo at Haughley, Suffolk, is expected to be ready for use.

It is expected that the grain silo at Haughley, Suffolk, will be ready for use in August next.

Sewerage Scheme, Breconshire

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning upon what date was the public local inquiry into the sewerage scheme for Crickhowell and Llangattock, Breconshire, held; why no further progress has been made with the scheme; what are the reasons for the delay in seeking tenders for its construction; and if he will make a statement.

The inquiry was held on 5th October, 1949, and the Crickhowell Rural District Council were notified on 11th February, 1950, that the scheme had been approved in principle subject to agreement on technical design. A compulsory purchase order for the site of the disposal works was confirmed on 28th August, 1950. Delay in seeking tenders is due to the fact that the Welsh Board of Health are awaiting final plans from the council.

Advertisement Regulations

asked the Minister of Local Government and Planning whether, with a view to avoiding unnecessary applications to local authorities, he will take steps, when next amending the advertisement regulations, to permit hotels under certain conditions to place two advertisements on each of their road frontages; to place their frontage signs more than 12 or 15 feet above ground level where to do otherwise would cut across their ground floor front windows; and also to use advertisements more than 12 feet square if they are more than a certain distance from the nearest highway.

No. I am not prepared to diminish the powers and responsibilities of the local authorities in this field.

Animal Feeding Stuffs

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the delay in the sowing of this year's harvest caused by the wet weather, he will take the necessary steps to ensure that there is an adequate supply of cereals for feeding purposes, in the event of the harvest being seriously below last year's yield.

I am afraid I cannot add anything to the statement about future ration scales for animal feeding-stuffs which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made on 22nd March in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson).