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Written Answers

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 5 March 1952

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 5th March, 1952

Colonial Service Officers (Land Purchases)

39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, as the extent of the present practice is causing much discontent among the native peoples, he will consider revising the regulations under which members of the Colonial Service are allowed to buy land.

Members of the Colonial Service may buy land only if the Governor of the territory concerned is satisfied that the officer's private affairs would not thereby be brought into real or apparent conflict with his public duties. I see no reason for revision of the regulations. Their local application in the widely varying circumstances of different territories is a matter for the Governors.

Mauritius (Teachers' Pensions)

40.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the nature of the consultations which are holding up the Governor's assent to the Bill providing pensions for aided school teachers in Mauritius.

I am at present awaiting a despatch on the matter from the Governor and will write to the hon. Member when it is received.

St Helena (Legislative Council)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to create a legislative council in St. Helena with an unofficial majority.

Ministry Of Defence

Nato Commands

49.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence if he will have a chart put in the Library showing the limits of the various commands established under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The areas of command for which the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic and the Allied Commander-in-Chief, Channel are responsible have not yet been finally decided, but when they have been settled I will see that consideration is given to my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion. There will, however, have to be prior consultation with other N.A.T.O. countries.

Officers' Widows (Pension)

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will review the present system whereby a widow of an officer of the Armed Forces has to undergo a means test to obtain the full ordinary widow's pension.

Ministry Of Food

Holiday Resorts (Supplies)

51.

asked the Minister of Food if, in view of the increased number of people who will be spending their holidays in Great Britain this year, he will take steps to ensure that British holiday resorts are allocated adequate supplies of rationed food this summer.

Any increased need for rationed foods in holiday resorts will be met by supplementary permits issued under arrangements that are well known to the food trade.

Sheep Prices

52.

asked the Minister of Food how many fat sheep and lambs were marketed in each of the four weeks beginning 4th February, 11th February, 18th February and 25th February; and if he is satisfied that the sharp variation in numbers could not have been avoided by a more gradual change in the price schedule for in-wool sheep.

Firm figures of the actual marketings of sheep and lambs in each of these weeks are not yet available, but the following figures of entries may be taken as approximately correct.

Week commencing
4th February24,600
11th February10,500
18th February83,700
25th February166,800
A more gradual change in the price schedule for in-wool sheep would probably have evened up the entries. But the schedule is settled in discussion with the Agriculture Departments and the National Farmers' Unions after each annual Price Review and I saw insufficient reason for altering the prices after they had been settled last year. As regards the future, the Price Review discussions will provide an opportunity to review the whole position.

Slaughterhouse, Sittingbourne

53.

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of repeated adverse reports by the medical officer of health on existing facilities at the Sittingbourne slaughterhouse, he will expedite the provision of new premises.

The over-riding limitation on new building works prevents approval being given for the building of a new slaughterhouse at Sittingbourne and at many other places where existing premises are unsatisfactory.

Rationed Foods

54.

asked the Minister of Food what is the percentage up-take of the rationed foodstuffs, bacon and cheese, for the months December. 1951. and January, 1952.

Deliveries of bacon to wholesalers were 100 per cent. of entitlement for both months and of cheese 100 per cent. for December and 90 per cent. for January. In all cases these figures are as high as, or appreciably higher than, the figures for December, 1950, and January, 1951.

Strategic Stocks (Consumption)

55.

asked the Minister of Food what foodstuffs have been withdrawn from the strategic food stockpile for current consumption; and the value of the foodstuffs so withdrawn.

No part of the stockpile has been consumed although in present circumstances some may have to pass into consumption during the year.

Royal Navy

Second Deputy Director Of Dockyards (Duties)

56.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the nature of the special duties to be undertaken by the second Deputy Director of Dockyards.

I assume that the Question relates to the second Deputy Director of Dockyards who is shown in the Navy Estimates for 1952–53 as being borne temporarily for special service. This officer has been appointed for the purpose of revising and rewriting the technical portions of the Home Dockyard Regulations and also the Professional Officers' Instructions which were last revised in 1925 and 1909 respectively.

Aircraft

57.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many different types of aircraft are now in service with naval aviation; and how many flying-boat fighter types are included in that figure.

Twenty-one. These do not include any fighter flying-boat types.

Shipyard Work, Hull

58.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number and value of the naval shipbuilding and ship-repairing contracts, respectively, placed with Hull shipyards last year; and the number and value of such contracts to be placed there this year.

I regret that it would be contrary to the public interest to publish this information. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member would care to write to me if he has any particular point on which I may be able to give him information.

Executive Officers (Commissions)

59.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the total number of executive officers commissioned last year; the numbers which were Dartmouth College and public school entries, respectively; the numbers commissioned from the lower deck under the sub-lieutenant, warrant officer and similar schemes, respectively; and the number entered from the Royal Naval Reserve and also the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

The total number of executive officers commissioned in 1951 was 425. This includes former cadets confirmed in the rank of sub-lieutenant, promotions from the lower deck to branch officer and officers re-entered from the reserves. One hundred and thirty came from the Dartmouth age 13 entries of 1943–44; 57 from the special and direct entries which cover the public and secondary schools; 18 from the lower deck under the upper yardmen scheme and 89 from the lower deck under the branch officer scheme; 130 former officers were re-entered for flying duties.The numbers entered into the R.N. from the R.N.R. and the R.N.V.R. were 2 and 94 respectively, 27 others were entered from the R.N.Z.N.V.R. All these entries from the reserves are included in the figure of 130 officers re-entered for flying duties.

Dockyards (Electrical Department Managers)

61.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what changes he proposes to make in the number of civilian managers in charge of the electrical departments of the Royal Dockyards.

No change in these posts is contemplated at present, but it is intended that in due course they will be filled by naval officers of the Electrical Branch.

Shipyards, Wear (Steel)

62.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the increasing redundancy among Wear shipyard workers, he will increase the allocation of steel to the Wear shipyards.

No. I shall not be able to increase the allocation of steel for shipbuilding on the Wear until more steel can be made available to the industry as a whole.

Strength

60.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the total number of naval personnel, active service and reserves, respectively, in July, 1914, August, 1939 and today.

The numbers required are as follow:

Active service (including reservists recalled)Available Reserves (excluding those on active service)
15th July, 1914146,00064,000
1st July, 1939129,00065,000
1st January, 1952147,00073,000
The July, 1939, figures have been given as more readily available than those for August of that year.In July, 1939, some 2,000 reservists had been mobilised. In January, 1952, over 5,500 reservists were on active service. The current reserves figure does not take into account the naval equivalent of the Z Reserve apart from those who have volunteered for the Emergency Reserves.

Dock Strike, Malta

63.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will make a statement on the position concerning the dock strike in Malta.

I have nothing to add at present to my reply of 27th February to the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Orbach), except to say that when a return to work in Malta takes place there will be no obstacle, so far as the Admiralty is concerned, to full discussions with the General Workers' Union.

Retired Branch Officers

64.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what number and what percentage of branch officers retired during 1950 and 1951 at the age of 50 years with the rank of lieutenant or above; with the pension of lieutenant or above; and with the rank but not the pension of lieutenant or above, respectively.

The numbers of branch officers who retired at age 50 during 1950 and 1951 with the rank of lieutenant and above were 58 and 39 respectively, representing 100 per cent. and 97.5 per cent. of the branch officers retired for age in those years.The numbers who retired with the rank and the retired pay of lieutenant and above were 49 in 1950 (84.5 per cent.) and 34 in 1951 (85 per cent.); those retired with the rank but not the retired pay of lieutenant and above were nine in 1950 (15.5 per cent.) and five in 1951 (12.5 per cent.).These figures do not include branch officers placed on the retired list for age but retained in employment, since their retired pay is not assessed until they leave the Service.

Wireless And Television

South Wales

65.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he can now announce a date when television will be available in South Wales.

As I announced in the House last week, the B.B.C. hope to open this station on low-power in August.

Airmet Service

69.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when the Airmet Broadcast Service will be resumed.

There is still no prospect that a frequency within the range of the normal domestic broadcasting receiver can be made available for the Air-met Service.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether a way has yet been found for reinstalling the Airmet broadcast and moving the emphasis of that broadcast from aviation to agriculture; and whether, in view of the difficulty of finding a radio frequency for this purpose, consideration can be given to this information being given over the television service by an attractive announcer, using comprehensible charts, diagrams and maps.

I am looking into the question of Airmet broadcasts, and I shall write to my hon. Friend on this point.The Meteorological Office has improved the weather charts supplied to the B.B.C., which are now transmitted from Holme Moss and Sutton Coldfield as well as from London.

Telephone Service

Payboxes (Threepenny Pieces)

68.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will consider the alteration of payboxes on public telephones to provide a fourth slot to take threepenny pieces.

There is no doubt that a slot to take 3d. pieces would be a convenience. I do not think, however, that with the present shortage of manpower and equipment and the need for economy the Post Office would be justified in altering 58,000 public call boxes.

Kiosks, Stroud

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will now arrange for telephone kiosks to be installed at Devereaux Housing Estate, Ebley, and Thompson Road, Uplands, Stroud, in view of the urgent public need.

I understand that every house at these places is within half a mile of an existing kiosk, and in view of our limited resources I regret that additional kiosks cannot be provided there at present.

Post Office

Troops, Korea (Mail)

70.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the average time taken for delivery of mail by air to troops in Korea: and what steps can be taken to speed up delivery.

The period varies from 7 to 10 days depending on the time and place of posting in this country, and the location of the addressee. My hon. Friend may rest assured that we examine every possibility of acceleration.

Training Films (Cost)

71.

asked the Assistant Posmaster-General whether he will give an estimate of the cost of production of new films for training Post Office staff.

The cost of producing new Post Office training films in 1952–53 is estimated at£6,300.

Date Stamps (Improper Use)

72.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General, in view of losses by fraud on investors in football pools by letters being time or date stamped incorrectly by unauthorised persons, what safeguards there are in the Post Office to obviate this possibility.

Strict precautions are taken to ensure that date stamps are not used by unauthorised persons or in improper ways. If my hon. and gallant Friend has a particular case in mind, I would be obliged if he would let me have particulars.

Aged Persons, Tyneside (Accommodation)

73.

asked the Minister of Health the number of aged persons awaiting hostel accommodation in the Durham County Council area; how many hostels have been built by the county council for aged persons; and how many applications to build he has refused.

I understand that on 23rd February the number of aged persons on the waiting list kept by the county council was 61. Two hostels for aged persons in need of care and attention are in course of construction. I have told the county council that proposals to build four further hostels for persons in need of care must be deferred for the time being.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has yet given final approval for the building of an old people's home at Kenton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and when the work is to be commenced.

The plans of the building have been approved, but since acquisition of the steel necessary for its erection cannot be authorised at present it is not possible to say when work will start.

National Health Service

asked the Minister of Health how many prescriptions were dispensed through the National Health pharmaceutical service; how many pairs of spectacles were issued; and how many dental treatments were effected during 1951 under the National Health administration.

The approximate figures for England and Wales are 229 million prescriptions, 4.7 million pairs of glasses (excluding glasses supplied through the hospital eye service) and 10 million dental treatments or courses of treatment.

Welsh And Scottish Film Libraries

74.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what are the reasons for his decision to adopt a different policy with regard to the Welsh Film Library, as compared with the Scottish Film Library.

The Welsh and Scottish Film Libraries are quite different organisations, and the similarity of title is misleading.The Welsh Film Library is owned and operated by the Government; it is part of the Welsh Office of the Central Office of Information and is a branch of the Department's Central Film Library in London. The Scottish Film Library is operated by a voluntary and independent body, the Scottish Film Council of the British Film Institute. The Council acts as an agent for the distribution of official films in Scotland on behalf of the Central Film Library, but that is only a part of its business.The considerations affecting the future organisation of the two Libraries are. therefore, very dissimilar.

National Finance

Uk—France (Interchange Visits)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the importance of maintaining and developing the maximum interchange of visits between France and Great Britain, he will give consideration to the scheme, put forward by the French travel interests, that British travellers to France should deposit pounds in London against their prospective expenses in France, that French travellers to England should deposit francs in France against their prospective expenses in England and that travellers between the two countries should be allowed to draw upon these funds to the extent that they are self-balancing over a reasonable period.

I am afraid that any such scheme involves a risk of a net loss of foreign currency and for that reason would not be acceptable.

Pipe Tobacco (Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the rise of pipe tobacco prices since 1939 of five-and-a-half times compared with three-and-a-half times for cigarettes, of the Purchase Tax on pipes and tobacco pouches, of the burden of export taxes in certain territories, of the consequent fall in the sale of pipe tobacco and in prices in particular to certain African producers of dark fired tobacco, he will consider reducing the duty on such tobacco.

Public Board Appointments (Publication)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will make arrangements for all new appointments or re-appointments to public boards to be published as they occur in the "London Gazette."

Yes. I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for his suggestion.

Royal Air Force

Newly-Commissioned Officers (Pay)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that some of the newly-commissioned officers of the Royal Air Force have received no payment since they were commissioned in November last; and what steps he is taking to remedy this grievance.

I have been unable to trace that any complaints of this kind have been received in the Air Ministry. I will, of course, gladly look into any particular case if my hon. Friend will let me have details.

National Service Officers (Clothing)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that many of the National Service men who were given commissions in the Royal Air Force last year and, instead of having to purchase their greatcoats and mackintoshes are to be issued with them and to return them at the end of their service, have still not received these greatcoats and mackintoshes and have suffered illness during the winter months as a result; and what steps he is taking to hasten this issue.

I regret that temporary shortages of certain sizes have led recently to delay in issuing greatcoats to some 150 National Service officers. All the officers have now been issued with greatcoats or are about to be issued with them, and action has been taken to prevent such delays in the future. No cases of illness resulting from the absence of greatcoats have been reported.I am not aware of any delays in issuing raincoats to National Service officers.

Uk—Cyprus Air Services

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation whether he will consider extending arrangements for air travel to Cyprus so that members of the public may travel by British Overseas Airways Corporation pressurised aeroplanes as well as by the British European Airways Corporation.

Improved air services between the United Kingdom and Cyprus with pressurised modern aircraft are to be introduced within the next few months.

China (British Subjects' Exit Permits)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that there are a number of British subjects in China who wish to leave that country, but who have not so far been granted permits to do so although they have fulfilled, or are willing to fulfil, all the requirements of the Chinese authorities; and whether he will take action to assist these British subjects.

I am aware of this problem, but the situation has lately improved. British subjects who apply for exist permits now generally obtain them. Delays do, however, still occur, and Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Peking has made representations to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in such cases

Horses (Transit Order)

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many vehicles conveying horses have been inspected by his officers since Statutory Instrument, 1951. No. 335, on the transit of horses, came into operation on 19th March, 1951; and what other action has been taken to ensure that this Order is being fully complied with on the railways and on the road.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available. The police and local authorities have the duty of enforcing the provisions of this Order and their attention has been specially called to their responsibilities under it.

Forestry (Deri And Fochriw)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what stage has been reached by the Forestry Commission in

Water SupplySewerage and sewage disposal
££
(1) Value of all rural schemes submitted for approval64,955,00049,268,000
(2) Value of schemes approved in principle but not yet authorised to go to tender14,804,0007,936,000
(3) Value of schemes authorised for commencement (completed and incompleted)28,399,00017,927,000
(4) Grants promised finally or conditionally under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Acts, 1944 and 195111,242,0008,177,000
(5) Portion of (4) paid to 31st January, 19522,737,0002,019,000

its acquisition of land at Deri and Fochriw; and when it is proposed to commence planting on the land already acquired.

The Forestry Commission have agreed terms for acquiring two properties. Groesfaen Isaf (93 acres) and Coed Cefn Bach (38 acres) in the vicinity of Deri. Neither transaction has yet been legally completed, and it has not been possible to commence planting. It is hoped to complete the transactions within the next few months, in time to start work next planting season.The Commission have not yet been able to acquire any land in the neighbourhood of Fochriw, but they are making every effort to do so.

Water Supplies

Rural Schemes

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, with regard to rural water and sewerage schemes in England and Wales, the respective value of schemes submitted to him for approval; of schemes approved in principle but not yet authorised to go for tender; of schemes authorised for commencement but not yet completed; of schemes completed; of grants promised but not yet paid; and of grants paid, up to 31st October. 1951. or the latest convenient date.

I he following details relate to the period from the end of the war to 31st January. 1952. Information on the value of schemes actually completed during that period is not available.

South Wales Development Area (Steel Allocations)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what allocation of steel has been made for the water industry in the Development Area of South Wales for the first quarter of 1952; and how this allocation will affect the needs of houses now being built.

It is not the practice to disclose the allocations for particular purposes, but I have no reason to believe that the total allocations in South Wales will be insufficient for housing purposes.

Statutory Instrument No 102

asked the President of the Board of Trade why Statutory Instrument No. 102, of 1952, does not explain to what goods it refers.

Statutory Instrument No. 102 of 1952 revokes the Sales by Auction and Tender (Control) Order, 1949 (S.I. No. 1152 of 1949), and does not in terms refer to any goods. The words in brackets in Article 1 of S.I. 102 of 1952 give the reader the purport of the Order which is being revoked, to which he will refer for detailed information.

Housing Subsidies

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the total subsidy paid from Exchequer funds upon housing schemes completed since 7th November, 1951; and the comparative figure for the same period from 7th November, 1950.

Information precisely in the form requested is not readily available, but Exchequer subsidies under the Housing Acts payable in respect of houses completed in England and Wales in the period from 1st November, 1951, to 31st January, 1952, are at the rate of£668,000 a year approximately. The corresponding figure for the period 1st November, 1950, to 31st January, 1951, is£606,000.