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Written Answers

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1952

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 19th March, 1952

Un Secretariat (British Citizens)

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the recognised status of British citizens in the employ of the United Nations' Secretariat; and what machinery exists under the control of Her Majesty's Government to safeguard their interests.

They are international civil servants, whose conditions of employment are determined by the staff regulations of the United Nations, approved by the General Assembly of that body.

Cairo Riots (Compensation)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to state what compensation will be payable for the destruction of British property in Cairo and the murder of nine British subjects.

No. As indicated in the answer given on 3rd March to my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Cold-field (Sir J. Mellor) the question is still under consideration by the Egyptian Government. Though a detailed assessment of the damage is of necessity rather a long process, evidence in support of British claims is being collected by Her Majesty's Embassy in Cairo with all possible speed.

Central African Federation

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the reasons for bringing forward the conference on the proposed federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

As I explained in the debate on the 4th March, the purpose of the April conference is to produce a detailed draft constitutional scheme as early as possible, so that public opinion may have something definite on which to focus.

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he has taken and proposes to take to ascertain the opinion of the people of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland with reference to the proposed federation; and what representation it is proposed to give to the African peoples of these countries at the forthcoming conference.

Action in Southern Rhodesia is a matter for the Government of that territory. In Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland very full consultations have already taken place with representatives of all sections of the public on the proposals contained in Cmd. 8233. The question of further consultations will be considered again after the April conference. As regards African representation at this conference, I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) on 12th March.

Germany (Chancellor's Statement)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, to clarify the matters discussed in the contractual negotiations between the Western Governments and the Government of the German Federal Republic, especially the question of security safeguards, he will make available the full text, now in his possession, of the statement made by the Chancellor of the German Federal Republic on 20th February.

Hong Kong (Publications Ordinance)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what security or other restrictions are in force in connection with the printing and distribution of hostile propaganda literature in Hong Kong and the New Territories.

Under the Hong Kong Control of Publications (Consolidation) Ordinance, 1951, the Governor-in-Council has power to prohibit the importation of publications likely to prejudice the security of the Colony or the maintenance of public order, and the courts may order the suppression of any local newspaper or similar tendency. The Ordinance further provides for the registration and licensing of newspapers and of printing presses.In addition, Emergency Regulations at present in force provide for the prohibition of certain kinds of publication, such as publications which incite to violence or are likely to promote racial hostility.

Post Office

Sunday Mail Collection

43.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what considerations prevent the general Sunday collection of letters in Hampstead and other London boroughs from taking place later than 4.15 p.m.

If the collection were made later, there could be no guarantee of delivery by the first post throughout England and Wales on the Monday morning.

Increased Charges (Budget Proposals)

61.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what estimate he has formed of the additional revenue to be obtained by the reduction of the 100 free calls to 50.

68.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what additional charge will be levied on telephone subscribers by the proposed reduction of the 100 free calls per half-year to 50 per half-year.

The estimated additional revenue for 1952–53 is about£350,000. In a full year, the additional revenue would be about£920,000.

62.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what additional revenue is expected by the proposed increases in the private telegraph and telephone services.

65.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the estimated commercial surplus on the inland postal service for 1951–52; and what additional income is expected from the proposed increases for letter and registered postal packets, respectively.

The estimated surplus on the inland postal service for 1951–52 is£7,400,000. The estimated additional revenue for 1952–53 from the proposed increase in charges for inland letters is£680,000, and for registration£730,000.

67.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the estimated surplus on civil air-mail packets, including post-cards, Commonwealth and foreign posts, for 1951–52; and what additional income is expected from the proposed increases in these charges.

There will unfortunately not be a surplus, but a deficit for 1951–52 of about£1,100,000. The estimated additional revenue for 1952–53 from the proposed increases in charges is£1,170,000.

69.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what are the estimated financial results of the telephone service for 1951–52; and what additional revenue is expected from the proposed increase in rentals.

The estimated commercial surplus on the telephone service for 1951–52 is£4,300,000. The estimated additional revenue for 1952–53 from the proposed increase in exchange subscribers' rentals is£4,850,000 on a cash basis and about£6,000,000 on a commercial account basis.

71.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how much of the additional revenue from the proposed increased charges is required for purely Post Office purposes; and how much for the needs of the Exchequer.

The increased charges were designed to convert a prospective deficit on Commercial Account of nearly£2 million in 1952–53 into a surplus of about£8 million which, apart from the current year and the first year of the war, would be the lowest commercial surplus for 25 years.

73.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what estimate has been made of the increased costs to the Post Office as a result of the increased price of petrol; and if he will state the amount.

It is estimated that the increase in the price of petrol will raise Post Office direct costs in 1952–53 by£565,000.

74.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table setting out the annual rental cost of telephones for the various parts of the country; and the proposed rental cost under the proposed new charges.

An amending Regulation, giving full details, will be laid before Parliament as soon as possible. Meanwhile, a table showing the changes in the rentals of exclusive and shared service lines is given below.

EXCLUSIVE EXCHANGE LINE—ANNUAL RENTAL
PresentFrom 1st July, 1952
£s.d.£s.d.
LondonBusiness8341100
Residence5197*800†
Birmingham
GlasgowBusiness7961000
LiverpoolResidence5510*700†
Manchester
Rest of CountryBusiness6158900
Residence4120*600†
SHARED EXCHANGE LINE—ANNUAL RENTAL
LondonBusiness711109100
Residence581*6100†
Birmingham
GlasgowBusiness61808100
LiverpoolResidence4144*5100†
Manchester
Rest of CountryBusiness6427100
Residence406*4100†
* 100 local call units allowed free each half-year
† 50 local call units allowed free each half-year

75.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what effect will the proposed increased charges have upon the services rendered, without payment, to other Government Departments; and if he will state the estimated financial consequence.

The postal services to other Government Departments are computed not on a tariff basis but on estimated costs. In the case of telephones and telegraphs the assessment is based on tariff rates, and the estimated additional credit to be taken in the Commercial Account for 1952–53 is£1,150,000.

76.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what estimate has been made of the total of the in crease in telephone charges falling upon the commercial account for the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force; and the constituent amounts.

The estimated additional credit to be taken in the Commercial Account for 1952–53 is£600,000, made up as follows:

  • War Office—£100,000.
  • Admiralty—£80,000.
  • Air Ministry—£420,000.

77.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the total amount paid to the air lines for postal work during the year 1950–51; and the estimate for 1951–52 and 1952–53.

The amount paid during 1950–51 to the two British Air Corporations for the conveyance of British mails was£5,633,700. The estimated payment to be made to them in each of the years 1951–52 and 1952–53 is approximately£8 million.

79.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the estimated financial results on registered postal packets, Commonwealth and foreign post, for 1951–52; and what additional income is expected from the proposed increase from 4d. to 6d.

It is estimated that this service incurs a loss of about£15,000, which the increase in rates will just about balance.

80.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the estimated financial outcome of the postal order service for the year 1951–52; and the additional income expected from the proposed increases.

The estimated surplus on the Postal Order service for 1951–52 is£100,000, but for 1952–53 there would have been an estimated deficit of£130,000. The estimated additional revenue for 1952–53 from the proposed increases in charges from 1st July is£1,050,000.

Deliveries, Lincolnshire

64.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General why letters from Spilsby, Skegness and Horncastle written to neighbouring towns and villages now require an extra day for delivery; and whether more use will be made of road transport to ensure quicker delivery.

For some years letters posted in the towns named up to 5.45–6.15 p.m. in the street posting boxes, and up to 7–7.30 p.m. at the main post office, have been due for delivery by the first post throughout Lincolnshire next weekday, and so far as my noble Friend is aware, they are so delivered. If my hon. and gallant Friend will let me have details of any instance in which there has been delay I will be glad to look into the matter.

Cash Results

66.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the cash results of Post Office working for each of the last five years.

The cash results of Post Office working for each of the last five years were:—

  • 1947–48—£2,736,000 deficit.
  • 1948–49—£6,749,000 deficit.
  • 1949–50—£6,086,000 deficit.
  • 1950–51—£962,000 surplus.
  • 1951–52—£8,073,000 estimated deficit.

Wireless And Television

Reception, Lincolnshire

60.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will make a statement on the protest made to him by local authorities in north Lincolnshire about the unsatisfactory reception on the medium wave-band, 434 metres, Northern Home Service, and also from the television service; and what steps he is taking to improve these two services.

I have received representations about unsatisfactory reception of the North Home Service from nine local authorities.I understand from the B.B.C. that north Lincolnshire should normally receive a good service from Moorside Edge on 434 metres, but that during the winter evenings serious interference has been caused by a Russian station using the same wavelength. We have protested to the Soviet Administration but, since 4th March, the B.B.C. has heard a second Russian transmitter using the wavelength, and I regret that the interference has become worse. A further strong protest is being sent.The B.B.C. was able to make a slight improvement in the situation earlier this year and hopes to make a further improvement by next winter. Reception conditions should improve during the summer months.I understand from the B.B.C. that normally the television programmes should be well received in the greater part of north Lincolnshire.

Scottish Service (Opening)

78.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what steps he took to arrange for Press publicity before the Scottish television service was opened.

None. Publicity about the opening of broadcasting stations is a matter for the B.B.C.

Telephone Service

Regulations

70.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will withdraw the Telephone Regulations, 1951.

72.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when the amending regulation, promised by his Department in the letter to the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments and published in the Second Report of the Committee, will be laid.

The amending Regulation (S.I. 1952 No. 418) was laid on 5th March, 1952.

Sunderland

81.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many applications for the installation of telephones in Sunderland are on his waiting list; and at what rate he expects to reduce this list.

One hundred and twenty-two applications were outstanding on the 31st December, 1951, and 276 were under investigation or in course of being met. There is a steady new demand for telephone service, and although new cables should be brought into service in this area next year, my noble Friend cannot say when supply will overtake demand.

Aberdeen

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many applicants for the installation of telephones in the city of Aberdeen are on his waiting list; and what is the rate of progress towards reducing the number of those awaiting installation.

One thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven were on the waiting list at the 31st December, 1951; 219 applications were under survey or in course of being met. About 1,200 lines should be connected in 1952.

Cardiff

82.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the number of new subscribers to the telephone service in Cardiff since the installation of the new automatic telephone service.

Fifty-three to date, and the work of connecting a further 242 is practically complete. The number will be substantially increased in the next few weeks.

Ministry Of Food

Bakers (Fat Allocation)

51.

asked the Minister of Food what action he proposes to take to remedy the effects of the cut to 42 per cent. in the allocation of fats to the bakery industry.

I realise that bakers are facing difficulties because of this cut, but until we can again afford to import more oils and fats, I cannot increase the present allocation.

Workers' Canteens (Prices)

52.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will take action to limit the increase of prices in workers' canteens in view of the fact that in some cases they has risen by 331 per cent. since the beginning of this year.

I hope that prices will be kept as low as possible, but I do not think it either desirable or practicable to control them by Order.

Domestic Pig Keeping

57.

asked the Minister of Food if, as a first step in removing restrictions on the keeping of pigs for domestic consumption, he will abolish the requirement that such pigs shall be formally registered at the local food office at least four months before a licence to slaughter is issued.

As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) on 25th Febru- ary, the regulations are being reviewed again this spring. I shall let my hon. Friend know if it is possible to remove any restriction.

Infertile Eggs (Sale)

56.

asked the Minister of Food what communication he sent to the Chick Producers' Association and to the National Federation of Grocers and Provision Dealers' Associations in reply to their protest against the retail sale of infertile shell eggs removed from incubators.

I am sending the hon. and gallant Member copies of the correspondence.

Canning Industry (Tinplate Substitutes)

58.

asked the Minister of Food whether any practical substitute for tinplate in the food-canning industry has been found; and if he is satisfied that adequate research into this subject is now being carried on.

Alternative materials, especially glass and aluminum, are being used wherever practicable, and the industry is most actively engaged in research and experiment.

Bacon Factory, Lincolnshire

59.

asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to meet the request of the Lincolnshire branch of the National Farmers' Union that a large-sized co-operative bacon factory be established centrally in Lincolnshire as soon as possible.

This is one of two proposals for a bacon factory in the same area. In view of the limitations on our investment programme, I cannot yet say whether either or both can be supported. A decision will be given as soon as possible.

Civil Aviation

Air-Liner Mishaps

83.

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation whether he has ascertained the causes of the two air-liner mishaps in which propellors became detached, over North Africa last month and over France last November, respectively; and if he is satisfied that such mishaps are adequately guarded against for the future.

Investigation into the mishap over North Africa last month is not completed, but the primary cause of the failure has been established and preventive action taken. The mishap over France to which I presume my hon. Friend refers occurred last August. Its cause has been ascertained and the Air Registration Board, which advises my hon. Friend in these matters, has made arrangements designed to guard against a recurrence. It is clear that the two mishaps occurred from different causes.

Aerodromes

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation how many airports or airfields have been purchased under the Civil Aviation Act, 1946; and where they are located.

The purchase of two aerodromes has been completed under the Civil Aviation Act, and a further three aerodromes are in process of legal conveyance to the Ministry. These aerodromes are Islay (Port Ellen), Stansted, Southampton (Eastleigh), Hurn and Lands End (St. Just).

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation how many airfields or airports were requisitioned in 1939; how many are still requisitioned; and when derequisition for those still requisitioned may be expected.

Ninety-one licensed civil aerodromes were requisitioned for flying use in 1939 and the early years of the war. Eighteen of these aerodromes are still held on requisition, 11 for my Department and seven for other Departments. Some of the aerodromes controlled by my Department are being acquired. Those not required by the State will be derequisitioned as soon as possible.

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what sum is still being paid annually for airfields and airports requisitioned in 1939.

:£65,000 is being paid annually for nine pre-war licensed civil aerodromes still held under requisition and controlled by my Department. In addition, the amount of compensation rent for two such aerodromes is still the subject of negotiations.

School Milk (Quality)

4.

asked the Minister of Education what guidance is given to schools or to local education authorities whether a preference should be given for the provision of tubercular-tested or of pasteurised milk for their children.

The local medical officer of health is responsible for approving the source and quality of the milk supplied for drinking in schools. It is the policy of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food and myself to try to ensure that milk supplied to the schools is either pasteurised or tuberculin tested.

Ministry Of Supply

Road Haulage Charges (Costs)

85.

asked the Minister of Supply whether his attention has been called to an increase in road haulage charges of 10 per cent. as from 1st April; and what effect this will have on the cost of transport of materials coming under his control.

Yes. The effect of this increase on iron and steel costs can be assessed only broadly. It is estimated at 3d. to 4d. a ton on the costs of steel.

Government Contracts (Soap)

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will arrange for the publication, through the medium of trade journals associated with the industries concerned, of prices at which tenders for soap and soap products are accepted by his Department.

It is contrary to established practice to disclose prices paid under Government contracts.

National Health Service

Tuberculosis (Hospital Beds)

asked the Minister of Health whether he will show, in tabular form, the number of beds available for the treatment of sufferers from tuberculosis in each hospital region of England and Wales for each of the years 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951; and whether he will indicate for each region the average time such patients have to wait for admission to hospital or sanatorium after being recommended for admission.

The number of such beds in non-teaching hospitals at 31st December, 1949 and 1950 are given below. Comparable figures for 1948 are not available, and those for 1951 are not yet complete, but provisional figures show that over 2,300 additional beds were made available for tuberculosis treatment during last year.The right hon. Member will be aware that as admission to in-patient treatment depends on the circumstances of the particular ease an average estimate of the waiting period has little meaning. Recent inquiries have shown, however, that in general the waiting period has been substantially shortened almost everywhere, and the size of the waiting list fell last year by nearly 2,000.

Regional Hospital AreaBeds Available
19491950
Newcastle2,1472,326
Leeds1,8302,019
Sheffield2,0642,275
East Anglia806892
N.W. Metropolitan1,8652,241
N.E. Metropolitan1,5352,000
S.E. Metropolitan1,8022,032
S.W. Metropolitan2,7523,016
Oxford513666
South Western1,9731,998
Wales2,4392,545
Birmingham2,4572,692
Manchester2,1422,163
Liverpool1,8411,943
The figures exclude beds allocated to T.B. treatment but temporarily unavailable (e.g., unstaffed) on 31st December.
About 85 per cent. of the beds, on average are for respiratory cases.
In addition to the above beds in non-teaching hospitals there are a total of approximately 850 tuberculosis beds in teaching hospitals

Hearing Aids

asked the Minister of Health (1) how the payments were made for the years 1947–48 to 1950–51, inclusive, for which provision was included in the Civil Estimates, Class V, and described therein as for Government hearing aids under the heading Central Purchase of Medical Supplies, Stores and Equipment, Current Expenditure, divided between purchase of aids, purchase of batteries, purchase of other component parts and other payments, respectively;

(2) what payments were made in each of the years 1947–48, 1948–49, 1949–50 and 1950–51, for which provision was included in the Civil Estimates, Class V, and described therein as for Government hearing aids under the heading Central Purchase of Medical Supplies, Stores and Equipment, Current Expenditure;

(3) what payments were made in each of the years 1947–48, 1948–49, 1949–50 and 1950–51, for which provision was included in the Civil Estimates, Class V, and described therein as for Government hearing aids under the heading Central Purchase of Medical Supplies, Stores and Equipment, Current Expenditure; how these payments were divided between purchase of aids, purchase of batteries, purchase of other component parts and other payments, respectively; and what numbers, respectively, of aids, batteries and other components paid for up to 31st March, 1951, had not at that date ever been issued to patients under the National Health Service.

asked the Minister of Health (1) how much of the total payments made to 31st March, 1951, for which estimates totalling£2,407,000 were provided under the heading, Government Hearing Aids, in the Civil Estimates, Class V, for the years 1947–48 to 1950–51, were for expenditure other than the actual purchase of hearing aids, hearing-aid batteries, and other components for hearing aids; and on what were such payments spent;(2) how much of the estimates for the years 1947–48 to 1950–51 described as for Government Hearing Aids under the heading Central Purchase of Medical Supplies, Stores and Equipment, Current Expenditure, in the Civil Estimates, Class V, for these years, and totalling for England and Wales,£2,407,000 was actually expended;(3) what were the total payments for the purchase of Government hearing aids to 31st March, 1951;(4) what were the total payments for the purchase of hearing-aid batteries and other components for hearing aids, respectively, to 31st March, 1951.

The amounts paid in the years 1948–49, 1949–50 and 1950–51 are shown in the following table. There was no expenditure in 1947–48.

Hearing AidsBatteriesComponentsOther items (audiometers and testing equipment)Total
£££££
1948–49123,22467,12752,500Nil242,851
1949–50305,32275,271152,848Nil533,441
1950–51272,817148,36549,39611,000481,578
Total701,363290,763254,74411,0001,257,870

Of 162,200 hearing aids paid for by 31st March, 1951, 16,700 had not been issued to patients at that date. The number of reconditioned hearing aids included in this unissued stock is not known. Information about the number of batteries and other components unissued to patients at the same date is not readily available.

asked the Minister of Health how many persons in Sunderland have received hearing aids; how many are still awaiting such aids; and of these how many require the bone conduction type.

In the area served by the Sunderland centre, which is wider than Sunderland itself, 4,757 patients have received Medresco hearing aids and 3,677 are waiting. I regret that I cannot say precisely how many of the latter require bone conduction aids, but I am informed that the proportion is very small.

House Of Commons (Transport And Stationery Costs)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the cost of transport allowed to Members of Parliament for each of the years from 1946 to the latest date.

The information asked for is as follows:

Financial Year:
£s.d.
1946–4757,974199
1947–4862,998178
1948–4973,191120
1949–5070,39342
1950–5169,061113
In addition, the proportion of the cost of the late night transport service attributable to its use by Members in 1947–48 was about£464.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the increase in the price of House of Commons stationery since 1946.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to House of Commons notepaper and envelopes supplied to Members on repayment. The average increase in price is about 80 per cent.: increases in the prices of individual items vary substantially.

Sugar Beet Harvest

asked the Minister of Agriculture how much sugar beet was marketed in Kent, Sussex and Surrey during 1951.

Eighty-nine thousand two hundred and seventy tons from the 1951 harvest.

Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the decision in Adams v. James Spencer & Co., 1951, S.C. 175, he will introduce legislation to amend Section 2 of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act, 1948, to bring the law of Scotland into conformity with the law of England by excluding from damages in respect of a person's death any right to benefit under the National Insurance Acts, 1946, resulting from that person's death.

The possibility of effecting the amendment of the law suggested is being kept in view.

Retirement Pensions

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will give details of all increases made to old age pensioners since 1946.

The standard rate of retirement pension under the National Insurance Act, 1946, was 26s. a week. This was increased by the National Insurance Act, 1951, to 30s. for men over 65 and women over 60 on 1st October, 1951.