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Written Answers

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 27 March 1952

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 27th March, 1952

Civil Defence (Use Of Aircraft)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now come to a decision about the use of aircraft in Civil Defence, including the suggestion made by the Air League of the British Empire for the formation of a Civil Defence Air Wing; and if he will make a statement.

The suggestions of the Air League of the British Empire have been examined along with other suggestions for the use of aircraft for Civil Defence purposes in war. The financial and other implications of these proposals are still being explored, but no final conclusions have yet been reached.

British Youth Peace Festival

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens he has permitted to enter this country to attend the British Youth Festival.

I assume that my hon. and gallant Friend is referring to the British Youth Peace Festival which is to be held near Sheffield at Whitsun. As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) on 13th March last, I am not prepared to grant facilities to foreigners to attend this Festival, and I have so far received no applications from foreigners to be allowed to come here for this purpose.

Aliens (Statistics)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in 1951, the immigration of aliens was greater or less than the emigration of aliens.

The figures for aliens arriving in or leaving the United Kingdom are not classified in a form which would provide the information which my hon. Friend requires, but between 1st April and 31st December, 1951, the number of aliens over the age of 16 registered with the police fell by about 6,000. This figure does not include aliens who were naturalised or registered as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies in that period.

Association Football (Crowd Control)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to incidents at Highbury on Sunday last when crowds were queueing for semi-final cup tickets; and whether he will take all necessary steps to provide the police with adequate powers to control crowds both outside and inside football grounds.

I have seen a police report on this incident. It affords no ground for suggesting that the police need additional powers.

National Health Service

Hearing Aids

33.

asked the Minister of Health the average time taken to grant a non-priority hearing-aid through the Bristol Royal Hospital; how many such applications have been made since the inception of the scheme; how many have been granted; and whether the waiting period is becoming longer or shorter.

Average figures of this kind are not available. Of approximately 10,000 applicants from the area served by the centre, about 4,400 have received their aids. A recent increase in staff has enabled the rate of distribution to increase and the waiting period to be shortened.

70.

asked the Minister of Health what special arrangements he is making to deal with arrears of applications for hearing aids in Accrington and district, in view of the fact that no otologist has been available at Blackburn Royal Infirmary for the last six months.

For reasons which I am explaining in a letter to the hon. Member, the temporary suspension of hearing aids diagnostic clinics at the Blackburn Royal Infirmary has not meant that patients from Accrington and district have had to wait longer for their aids than they would otherwise have done.

71.

asked the Minister of Health how many applications for hearing aids under the National Health Service were outstanding on 1st March, 1952, for the City of Bradford; and what is the average waiting period.

Separate figures for the city are not available, but in the whole area served by the Bradford centre 4,849 applications were outstanding, of which the earliest was made in March, 1949. Priority patients are fitted almost immediately.

78.

asked the Minister of Health how many applicants for hearing aids are on the London Hospital waiting list; what is the average number of applicants registered monthly; how many applicants have been waiting for 12 months or more; and what is the average waiting period for comparable hospitals within the London area.

About 3,250 patients are waiting to be supplied by this hospital. About 150 fresh names are added each month to the waiting list, which has recently been substantially reduced. Six hundred and eighty-two have been waiting for a year or more. Patients now being fitted at this and most other centres in the London area applied in 1950.

Tuberculosis (Streptomycin And Bcg)

66.

asked the Minister of Health what tests or researches are being undertaken with the use of streptomycin as a tuberculosis curative.

The main experimental stage has been passed. Streptomycin now has an accepted place and is being widely used in the treatment of tuberculosis.

67.

asked the Minister of Health what progress has been made by research into the use of BCG vaccine as a tuberculosis preventative.

The present research consists of long-term study of selected groups of the population, and results will not be available for some time.

Dental Treatment

73.

asked the Minister of Health how many estimates over £25 were submitted by dentists to the Dental Estimates Board during 1951.

74.

asked the Minister of Health what would be the estimated cost to the Exchequer if adolescents were exempted from the proposed charge for conservative dental treatment in the National Health Service Bill.

75.

asked the Minister of Health the cost of orthodontic treatment approved by the Dental Estimates Board during 1951.

Precise figures are not available but it is estimated that the cost of orthodontic treatment approved by the Dental Estimates Board during 1951 was of the order of £500,000.

Cortisone

84.

asked the Minister of Health when cortisone will be available in sufficient supply to enable medical practitioners to prescribe it for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

I would refer the right hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) on 15th November, 1951. My right hon. Friend regrets that he cannot say when cortisone will be freely available.

Hospitals

Maternity Home, Heanor

42.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the further delay in the opening of the Maternity Home, Heanor, Derbyshire; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the loss and inconvenience occasioned by this lack of foresight.

I am informed that a postponement of one month is unavoidable owing to delay in supplying essential equipment, which is outside the control of the regional hospital board.

Food Supplies, Wales

44.

asked the Minister of Health how far the Welsh Regional Hospitals Board will be permitted to tender a supplementary estimate to cover the increased cost of food to hospitals and sanatoria arising from the reduction of food subsidies.

Reasonable provision was made for price increases in the allocation of money to the Board for 1952–53.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will give an assurance that there will be no diminution of quality or quantity of food at the Rookwood Hospital, Cardiff, despite the increase in cost, due to the food subsidy reductions.

Part-Time Chaplains (Travelling Expenses)

76.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the hardship caused to many part-time chaplains owing to the regulation which prevents hospital management committees meeting the travelling expenses inseparable from the performance of their duties; and if he will make such amendment to the regulations as will enable part-time chaplains to be put on the same basis as part-time consultants as regards travelling expenses.

Sunderland (Unoccupied Beds)

77.

asked the Minister of Health how many beds in hospitals within the area of the Sunderland Management Committee, are at present unoccupied owing to shortage of nursing staff.

Cliveden Hospital Women's Tuberculosis Ward

83.

asked the Minister of Health what progress is being made with the completion of the new ward for women tubercular patients in the Cliveden Hospital, Taplow.

Building work is now complete, and the hospital management committee are recruiting the staff needed to open the new beds.

Agriculture

Productive Land (Use)

45.

asked the Minister of Agriculture for an assurance that any project involving the loss of productive farm land to the extent of 20 acres or more will in the first instance be considered by him with the advice of the land Commissioner and the county agricultural executive committee.

Proposals to acquire agricultural land for other purposes are referred to my Department locally or at headquarters. My Land Commissioners may clear the proposals themselves, with or without conditions, if they are satisfied that that is the right course, or may refer the case to me. C.A.E.C.'s should be consulted on all major problems.

54.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many acres of farmlands have been lost to building construction, opencast, iron-ore, coal and other mineral working and to sundry other causes during 12 months ended on the latest convenient date; and what steps he is taking to curtail this process of eroding the acreage of productive farmlands in the United Kingdom.

The total area of crops and grass and rough grazings in sole occupation in England and Wales in the June, 1951, agricultural returns was 9,500 acres less than the area a year earlier. No precise information is available of the acreage of farmland used for each form of development.My Department is consulted on all proposals to use agricultural land for other purposes. This procedure ensures so far as practicable that no good farm land is lost to food production where it can reasonably be avoided.

56.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what consultations are to take place after 1st April, 1952, between the National Coal Board and his Department, prior to granting of clearance certificates for opencast mining of productive farmlands.

After 1st April, 1952, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power will continue to be responsible for consulting me before agricultural land is entered for prospecting or is requisitioned by him for opencast coal working.

Executive Committees

46.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will publish separate accounts for each county agricultural executive committee.

Yes. After considering this matter I have decided to publish the trading accounts of individual county agricultural executive committees, starting with those for the current year, 1951–52.

53.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has considered information that has been sent him concerning activities of the county agricultural executive committees; and, in view of the fact that they are running at a loss of about £4 million a year, if he will consider bringing their activities to an end.

I am writing to my hon. Friend about the particular cases he has brought to my notice, but the reply which I gave on 6th March about the continued existence of the county agricultural executive committees still holds good.

Farm Institutes

47.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of agricultural institutes in 1939 and 1952, respectively; and what his proposals are to develop further this branch of agricultural education.

In 1939 there were 17 farm institutes in England and Wales; in 1952 there are 33. Several existing institutes are being extended and two additional institutes should open next year. Plans for others will proceed as economic conditions allow.

Imported Machinery (Spare Parts)

48.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has taken steps to ensure the continued supply of spare parts required for imported farm machinery.

Yes; arrangements are made to manufacture spare parts for imported agricultural machinery in this country wherever this is practicable, but in other cases the importation of spare parts is sanctioned.

Supervision Orders And Dispossessions

51.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many supervision orders are now in force in relation to the management of land; and how many owners of agricultural land were dispossessed under Part II of the Agriculture Act, 1947, during the year 1951 for bad estate management.

Three hundred and forty-four supervision orders were in force on 29th February, 1952, on the grounds of bad estate management. Nine certificates under Section 16 of the Agriculture Act, 1947, were issued in 1951 and the compulsory purchase of the land is proceeding.

Pigs (Slaughtering)

52.

asked the Minister of Agriculture why his regulations require a farmer delivering pigs to a Government slaughterhouse in a foot-and-mouth area to obtain a licence from the police of the area in which the slaughterhouse is situated and not in that of the farm.

The requirement that licences should be obtained from the police of the area in which the slaughterhouse is situated enables the number of pigs sent forward for slaughtering to be regulated according to the capacity of the slaughterhouse and prevents the undesirable accumulation at the slaughterhouse of animals which could not be slaughtered at once.

Redundant Staff, Essex

55.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether ex-Service men of the 1914–18 war, employed as civil servants by the Essex County Agricultural Executive Committee and now redundant, are to be retained in their existing grades or are to revert to the basic grade; and if, in considering this matter, he will bear in mind that reversion to the basic ground would put these men at a disadvantage in comparison with other staff, including ex-Service men of World War II.

Redundancy amongst the temporary staff of the Essex County Agricultural Executive Committee is dealt with under a procedure applicable to the Department as a whole and agreed upon between the Official and Staff Sides of the Departmental Whitley Council. Because of a long-standing pledge, ex-Service men of the 1914–18 war are in a more favourable position than other staff in the matter of retention in employment, though not necessarily in the same grade, in the event of redundancy. A man in this class, if he is redundant in his present grade, has the right to revert and be considered in relation to men in a grade below; other officers have this right only if they have served in that lower grade.

Queen's Hall (Henry Wood Hall)

57.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an assurance that his acceptance of the suggestion of the Trustees of the Henry Wood National Memorial Trust that the funds of the trust should be devoted to the provision of a separate small hall within the new Queen's Hall building, to be known as the Henry Wood Hall, and so designed as to be specifically suited to orchestral and choral rehearsals, will not prejudice the suitability of the hall for rehearsals of full symphony orchestras and large choirs; and if he is satisfied that this would be fully in accordance with the recently-expressed wishes of important subscribers to the trust.

No detailed plans have been made for the new Queen's Hall building. But we intend the Henry Wood Hall to be suitable for full scale orchestral and choral rehearsals. This seems to be in accordance with the wishes of subscribers to the Trust Fund.

National Finance

Post-War Credits

61.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now pay out Post-War Credits to all men and women who have been disabled through accident or sickness from ever following any employment again and who are under the age of 65 and 60 years, respectively.

No. As my hon. Friend stated in reply to the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), on 25th March, he has not in our present circumstances felt able to propose any extension of the field of repayment this year.

Personal Incomes And Prices

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the percentage by which personal incomes have increased between 1938 and 1951, after payment of taxes; and the percentage by which prices of consumers' goods and services have risen between 1938 and February, 1952.

It is estimated that the total of personal incomes after payment of direct taxes increased by about 122 per cent. between 1938 and 1951, and that the prices of consumers' goods and services generally increased by 108 per cent. between 1938 and 1951, and by 121 per cent. between 1938 and February, 1952.

Employment

Engineering And Shipbuilding, Aberdeen

85.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that there is unemployment in the engineering and shipbuilding trades in the city of Aberdeen; and what steps he proposes to take to secure full employment in these trades.

Unemployment in the engineering industry in Aberdeen is inconsiderable and in shipbuilding it is not abnormally heavy. In both it has steadily declined since the beginning of the year.

Agricultural Workers (Call-Up)

86.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will simplify the conditions under which agricultural workers may be deferred from National Service as set out in his Department's circular PL 341.

I have already simplified these conditions as announced in answer to Questions by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norfolk, Central (Brigadier Medlicott) on 28th February last. Certain other points are still under consideration.

89.

asked the Minister of Labour how many agricultural workers from the West Riding of Yorkshire were called up for National Service during 1951.

94.

asked the Minister of Labour how many farm workers have been called up in Wales at the last convenient date; how many applications for deferment under the new call-up arrangements have been received; how many have been rejected; and what periods of deferment have the others received.

Up to 29th February, 1952, 203 had been called up. Up to the same date 1,540 applications for deferment under the new arrangements were received, of which 59 have been rejected. Deferment has been granted in 1,046 cases, the periods being as follows:

Up to 3 months64
3 to 6 months709
Over 6 months273
435 cases were still under consideration at 29th February.

Factory Inspectors

88.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of factory inspectors in the employment of his Department; and the proportion of these holding university degrees in engineering and scientific subjects.

The number of inspectors in post is 345. Of these 104, approximately 30 per cent. held university degrees in engineering and scientific subjects.

Unfilled Vacancies And Registrations

90.

asked the Minister of Labour the ratio between the number of persons unemployed and the number of unfilled vacancies in the United Kingdom; and in which regions unemployment is rising and in which regions the majority of unfilled vacancies are to be found.

At the middle of February, for every three persons registered as unemployed there were two vacancies on the books of the employment exchanges. The increase in unemployment which has taken place since the middle of last year has affected all regions. The London and South-Eastern, Midland and North-Western Regions had the largest number of vacancies unfilled.

Cotton Mills, Accrington (Short-Time)

91.

asked the Minister of Labour how many cotton mills in the area of the Accrington employment exchange have had periods of short-time working since last October.

Woollen Trade, Yorkshire

92.

asked the Minister of Labour how many men and women were unemployed in the heavy woollen area of Yorkshire on 1st December, 1951; and how many on the latest available date.

Three hundred and fifty-seven males and 291 females at 10th December, and 516 males and 666 females at 11th February. These figures relate to the Dewsbury, Ossett, Mirfield and Batley employment exchanges.

Pottery Industry, Stoke-On-Trent

96 and 97.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) whether he is aware that the restriction of imports of pottery by the Australian Government is resulting in unemployment of workers in the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent; and what proposals he has for offering alternative employment to workers who become redundant:(2) whether he will give the most recent figures for unemployment, both total and partial, among pottery operatives in Stoke-on-Trent.

Some 30 pottery workers are wholly unemployed and approximately 1,000 are on short-time. Some redundant workers may be re-engaged in the industry and alternative employment is available for men and women at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Swynnerton, where there is a large number of unfilled vacancies.

Foreign Domestic Workers

98.

asked the Minister of Labour approximately how many foreign domestic workers are now employed in this country; and if he is satisfied with the existing supervision in respect of their working hours and conditions.

I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available. As to the second part, where permission is required for the employment of a foreign domestic worker such permission is not granted unless the Ministry is satisfied that the wages and other conditions of employment are not less favourable than those commonly accorded to British workers for similar work.

Domestic Employment Agencies

99.

asked the Minister of Labour what steps have been taken to prevent hardship resulting from the operation of the Notification of Vacancies Order, 1952, to those whose livelihood is derived from the business of a domestic employment agency.

The arrangements made under the Order for issuing exemption certificates to employers and permits to domestic workers are such as not to interfere unduly with the business of domestic employment agencies if they co-operate with the employment exchanges.

Sunderland

100.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of building trade workers in Sunderland at present unemployed.

Figures for 17th March will be available shortly, and I will write to the hon. Member.

asked the Minister of Labour the average length of the period of unemployment of the severely disabled persons in Sunderland at present unemployed.

It is not possible to give an average length of unemployment. Of the 116 severely disabled persons at present unemployed, 17 have been unemployed for less than six months, 13 for less than a year, 10 for less than two years and 76 for more than two years.

Elderly Persons (Advisory Committee)

asked the Minister of Labour if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names of the members and terms of reference of the National Advisory Committee on the Employment of Older Men and Women; and when he expects to receive the committee's report.

This is a standing Committee which will keep under constant review the various problems involved in promoting the employment of older men and women. It will advise from time to time on the various aspects of the question and I do not contemplate receiving one final and comprehensive report. The Committee has its first meeting next week.The terms of reference of the Committee are "To advise and assist the Minister of Labour and National Service in promoting the employment of older men and women."The following persons have been appointed to serve on the Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir Peter F. Bennett, O.B.E., J.P., M.P., Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and National Service.

Members

  • Mrs. E. M. Abbot, Treasury.
  • Dr. A. B. Badger, The Gas Council.
  • Sir Frederic Bartlett, C.B.E., F.R.S., Director of the Psychological Laboratory, Cambridge and Honorary Director of the Nuffield Research Unit into the Problems of Ageing.
  • Dr. G. E. Godber, D.M., F.R.C.P., Ministry of Health.
  • Mr. D. H. W. Hall, Deputy Chairman, National Council of Social Service. Acting Chairman, National Old People's Welfare Committee.
  • Mr. R. Howat, Department of Health for Scotland.
  • Sir William Lawther, J.P., National Union of Mineworkers.
  • Mr. A. H. Mathias, C.B.E., Chairman, Retail Distributive Trades Conference.
  • Dr. E. R. A. Merewether, C.B.E., M.D., F.R.C.P., D.I.H., F.R.S. (Edin.), Ministry of Labour and National Service.
  • Mr. H. Plowman, Town Clerk of Oxford.
  • The Dowager Marchioness of Reading, G.B.E., C. St. J., Women's Voluntary Services.
  • Sir Frederick Rees, Vice President of the Unversity of South Wales and Monmouthshire.
  • Mr. A. Roberts, C.B.E., Amalgamated Association of Card. Blowing and Ring Room Operatives.
  • Miss E. M. R. Russell-Smith—Ministry of Health.
  • Dr. J. H. Sheldon, M.D., F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., Director of Medicine, the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton.
  • Mr. M. R. F, Simson, Secretary to the National Corporation for the Care of Old People.
  • Dame Mary Smieton, D.B.E.—Ministry of Labour and National Service.
  • Sir Richard Snedden, C.B.E., Chairman, British Employers' Confederation's "Industrial Organisation" Standing Committee.
  • Dr. Donald Stewart, M.D., F.R.C.P., Chief Medical Officer of the Austin Motor Co. Ltd.
  • Sir Ronald J. Thomson, President of the Association of County Councils in Scotland, 1948–50.
  • Professor R. M. Titmuss, Professor of Social Administration in the University of London.
  • Mr. J. Whalley, C.B.—Ministry of National Insurance.
  • Sir Harold Wiles, K.B.E., C.B.—Ministry of Labour and National Service.
  • Mr. T. Williamson, C.B.E., J.P., National Union of General and Municipal Workers.
  • Mr. L. G. Wilson, O.B.E., Chairman, Wool (and Allied) Textile Employers' Council, Chairman, British Employers' Confederation's "Factories" Standing Committee.

The Secretary of the Committee is Mr. J. Howie Mitchell, Ministry of Labour and National Service, 80–82, Pall Mall, London, S.W.1.

Rayon Factory, Coventry

102.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the threat of unemployment to rayon workers in Coventry implicit in the shutting down of rayon producing machinery in the city's principal rayon factory; and what action he proposes to take to maintain employment.

I understand that the factory in question will close for a fortnight during April, and that the workers affected will be employed during this period in the firm's other factories in the area.

Returns (Short-Time Working)

101.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the recorded figures of workpeople temporarily stopped do not reflect the true position; that most of the short-time working in the city of Carlisle occurs at the end of each week; and if he will consider recording the figures on other week-days.

These figures do not purport to give the number of workers who are temporarily stopped at any time in a week, but the numbers temporarily stopped on a particular day. For this purpose Monday is as good as any other day over the country as a whole, though in Carlisle at the moment a higher figure would be obtained by a count on Friday. To take the count every day of the week would involve a disproportionate amount of staff time. Returns are obtained, however, at quarterly intervals showing the number of workers on short-time in the manufacturing industries.

Education

University Awards (Economies)

103.

asked the Minister of Education which local education authorities are making economies in the year's expenditure by reducing the number of university awards or by increasing parental contributions for those who gain university grants.

In Circular 247 issued on 28th February I asked local education authorities to postpone final decisions on numbers and amounts of their awards until they had had further discussions with me. These discussions have not yet taken place.

National Anthem

104.

asked the Minister of Education whether the words of the National Anthem are taught in State schools; and whether she will take steps to see that this should be a part of the school curriculum.

This is a matter for the local education and school authorities and, I am sure, can safely be left to them.

Victoria Road School, Ruislip

108.

asked the Minister of Education why the school, situated in Victoria Road, Ruislip, is to be handed over for the use of the United States authorities with the approval of her Department; and whether she will give consideration to the provision of school places which will be necessitated by this transfer.

Neither the local education authority nor my Department know anything of any such proposal.

Homework

106.

asked the Minister of Education what powers, under her regulations, the authorities have to set homework or to inflict punishments, should it not be done.

I have made no regulations governing these matters, which are left to the discretion of the school authorities.

School Meals (Price Increases)

109.

asked the Minister of Education the estimated increase in the total cost of school meals, due to the reduction in food subsidies.

I regret that I cannot estimate the additional cost to the school meals service until actual price increases and effective dates have been announced.

Essex

110.

asked the Minister of Education, in view of the desire of the Leyton Committee for Education to supply where necessary blazers as well as caps and badges for boys in certain Leyton schools and the decision of the Essex Education Committee to continue to restrict grants for boys only in respect of caps and badges, whether she will take action to resolve this conflict in the interest of parents who cannot afford to purchase blazers for boys and in order to avoid discrimination between boys and girls in this respect.

I understand that the Essex Authority have not yet reached a decision on the representations which have been made to them on this matter by the Leyton Divisional Executive.

111.

asked the Minister of Education to what extent it is estimated the supply of teachers to meet the requirements of Essex schools is likely to grow worse during the next five years; and how far economy plans are having an adverse effect on this problem.

I aim at increasing the number of teachers employed in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales by between three and four thousand a year, but it will not be possible to improve staffing standards during the next few years when the school roll will be increasing rapidly. Measures will continue to be necessary to ensure proper distribution of the available teachers, but I know of no special difficulties which are likely to arise in Essex. Recent economy measures do not affect this problem.

Trade And Commerce

Exports To Australia (Licences)

112.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many current licences have been issued for the export of goods to Australia; what is their total value; and if he will make representations to see that any modifications of contracts for delivery of goods to Australia shall only be made with the consent of the exporter.

Only a small part of our extensive export trade with Australia is subject to export licence control. The value of export licences issued are not recorded by countries, and I cannot say what the value of export licences issued for Australia would be. The modification of existing contracts is a matter for the importer and exporter to determine.

Monopolies Commission (Nationalised Industries)

113.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now take steps to amend the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, to empower the Monopolies Commission to inquire into the nationalised industries.

I am considering this matter in preparing legislation to strengthen the Commission and widen the scope of their activities.

Rayon Industry

114.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the difficulties now facing the rayon industry owing to the recession of trade; and what steps he is taking to ease these difficulties, which are now adversely affecting those engaged in the industry.

Yes. I am aware that production of rayon, as well as of other textiles, has had to be reduced as a consequence of the present recession in trade. I understand that the individual producers are in consultation with employees and with the trade unions to ensure that labour conditions remain as stable as possible during the period of reduced activity, which I hope will not be prolonged.With regard to the last part of the Question, I have nothing to add to what I said during yesterday's debate on the general position in the textile industry.

Uk-Argentine Trade Discussions

115.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in the present trade negotiations, he will ensure that the valuable trade with the Argentine of Sheffield cutlery and silverware is taken fully into account.

The importance of cutlery and silverware, as well as of other United Kingdom exports of consumer goods, will be borne in mind in the current trade discussions.

Fertilisers (Import Duties)

116.

asked the Secretary for Overseas Trade, as representing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, what additions to the prices of fertilisers are due to tariffs.

The only significant imports of finished fertilisers subject to import duty are superphosphates and basic slag. On the basis of probable consumption of fertilisers this season (1st July, 1951-30th June, 1952) it is estimated that about 2 per cent. of the present statutory maximum prices of superphosphates and basic slag, and well below 1 per cent. of the price of compound fertilisers are due to tariffs.

National Insurance (Pensions Review)

118.

asked the Minister of National Insurance when he will be in a position to make an announcement on the improvements in pensions and benefits.

Discussions are still proceeding, but an announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Common Cold (Research)

119.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, representing the Lord President of the Council, what progress has been made in the Government's researches into the cure of the common cold; and whether he will now make a statement on the results achieved.

The Medical Research Council have been conducting investigations, mainly at the Harvard Hospital, Salisbury, in co-operation with the Ministry of Health, into the nature, causes and treatment of the common cold. A large part of the programme is concerned with efforts to isolate and cultivate the infecting organism. Despite some initially promising results this work has not so far been successful. Attempts have been made to ascertain the factors affecting an individual's susceptibility to infection. The way in which infection spreads has been made a subject of special study, including an experiment conducted with volunteers isolated on an uninhabited island off the North of Scotland. Clinical trials have shown that antihistaminic drugs are not effective as a prophylactic against the common cold. Eight papers dealing with the results obtained have been published in scientific journals and several more are in preparation.

Re-Armament Programme

120.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence to what extent the implementation of the Budget proposals will affect the re-armament programme; and to what figure his recent estimate of £5,200 million will now have to be amended.

The general effect of the Budget in strengthening the economy of the country will clearly be favourable to the progress of the re-armament programme. The figure of £5,200 million was the theoretical cost of carrying out the programme originally estimated to cost £4,700 million in three years had this been possible. The period is now being extended. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained to the hon. Member on 20th February last, it is not at present possible to produce a figure for the total cost of defence over the extended period.

Post Office (Revenue)

121.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the anticipated gross licence revenue from broadcasting receiving licences on which the estimate for 1952–53 in Class IV, 12, Sub-head A, was based; the amount estimated to be receivable by the Post Office for collection, etc.; the amount to be retained by the Treasury in respect of Clause 3 (b) of the agreement with the Corporation dated 20th December, 1951; and the estimated British Broadcasting Corporation liability for Income Tax.

The estimated gross licence revenue is £14,650,000. On the basis of a 7½ per cent. deduction for collection, management and the interference investigation service, £1,100,000 will accrue to the Post Office, and £2,050,000 will accrue to the Exchequer. I understand that on its forecast of income and expenditure for 1952–53, the B.B.C. does not expect to incur Income Tax liability.

Legal Aid And Advice Act, 1949

asked the Attorney-General when Section 7 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1949, will be implemented.

As the extra expenditure involved in implementing this Section is not considered to be justified in the present economic condition of the country, I regret that I am unable to say when it will be possible to bring the Section into force.

Animal Feedingstuffs

asked the Minister of Food the tonnages of rationed feedingstuffs made available to the agricultural industry in the United Kingdom last year; and, in particular, the quantities of wheat, barley, oats, maize oil-cakes, milling by-products and sorghum.

The following table shows the quantities of rationed animal feedingstuffs distributed in the United Kingdom during the calendar year 1951:

Thousand tons
ImportedHome grown or Home producedTotal
Wheat of feeding quality18965254
Wheat offals (a)1759791,154
Barley1,181241,205
Oats81128209
Maize874874
Sorghum7171
Oilcakes and meal (b)4345731,007
Other feeding stuffs (c)321317638
TOTAL3,3262,0865,412
Notes:
(a) The proportion of home-grown wheat to the total quantity of wheat used in millers' grists was 32 per cent. in 1951.
(b) Home-produced oilcakes and meals are derived from imported oilseeds and small quantities of home-grown linseed.
(c) Other imported feedingstuffs include herring meal, whale meat meal, molasses, rice bran, locust beans, cassava, mandioca and maize gluten feed. Other home-grown and home-produced feeding-stuffs include fish meal, meat and bone meal, maize gluten feed and other cereal by-products.
These figures are directly comparable with and subject to the same qualifications as those for the years 1945 to 1950 which were given on 26th April, 1949, 27th March, 1950, and 1st February, 1951.

Opencast Coal Sites, Derbyshire

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of opencast coal sites now being worked in the county of Derby, stating their location; and what further sites it is intended to open in the county, giving the names of such places.

Nineteen opencast coal sites are now being worked in Derbyshire and a further 21 sites are under consideration for working. I am sending the hon. and learned Member a list of these sites.

Icelandic Fishing Regulations

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the new restrictions imposed by the Icelandic Government upon the right of British fishermen to fish in waters around Iceland; and whether he proposes to take any action.

The position created by the new Icelandic fishery regulations is at present being studied by the Departments concerned. I should prefer not to say anything more until this examination has been concluded.