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Written Answers

Volume 499: debated on Tuesday 22 April 1952

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 22nd April, 1952

Local Government

Town And Country Planning

2.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the annual cost of administering town and country planning in the United Kingdom to the latest convenient date.

I fear that it would be almost impossible to obtain for my hon. Friend the information which he wants, without some more precise definition of terms and immense research into English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish records.

8.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will now state if he will be able to introduce legislation this Session to amend the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947.

It will certainly not be possible to introduce legislation for this purpose during the present Session.

New Town Corporations (Members' Remuneration)

6.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what remuneration is being paid to members of new town corporations, other than chairmen and vice-chairmen, in respect of their office; and whether all members of all corporations are paid on the same scale.

All members of new town corporations other than chairmen and deputy chairmen are entitled to remuneration at the rate of £400 per annum in respect of their office.

Motor Car Allowances

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in view of the increases in the cost of petrol, tyres, and motoring generally, he will amend Part VI of the Local Government Act, 1948, so as to bring motor car allowances to members of county councils in line with the actual cost of using private motor cars where necessary.

The Local Government (Members' Allowances) Amend- ment Regulations, 1952, increased motor car allowances as from 1st April this year, to bring them into line with running costs. I am keeping the position under review.

Outdoor Advertising

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware of the difficulties of outdoor advertising contractors, in so far as the operation of the advertising Regulations has not yet produced agreement as to the interpretation of amenity and that an appeal with regard to a site at 470, Oldham Road, Rochdale, was dismissed by him notwithstanding the proximity of a cotton mill and evidence at the inquiry that there was no amenity in the immediate vicinity of the site or forming a background thereto; and what steps he proposes to take to ease the difficulties of the outdoor advertising industry with regard to such cases.

The Regulations provide that the suitability of a site for advertisements shall be determined, in the interests of amenity, in the light of the general characteristics of the locality. The general character of the neighbourhood around 470, Oldham Road, Rochdale, is primarily residential. I cannot agree that the hearing produced no evidence of amenity in the immediate vicinity of the site, and the presence of a cotton mill nearby, did not, in my opinion, justify my opposing the efforts of the Rochdale County Borough Council to do all they can to improve the appearance of this neighbourhood by removing a board on the gable end of a house. As regards the difficulties of the industry, these are shortly going to be discussed with my Department.

Building Licences

20.

asked the Minister of Works in what circumstances under his Regulations, local authorities act as his agents in prosecutions on charges of exceeding the £100 a year free limit in building; and, in view of the desirability of encouraging those who will help themselves to provide homes, if he will now amend his Regulations to permit greater latitude in such cases.

Local authorities have powers without reference to my Department, to institute proceedings against persons suspected of contravening Defence Regulation 56A. They now have considerable discretion to license the erection of houses and I am considering with my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, whether any further changes should be made in the licensing system.

Agriculture (Foreign Workers)

25.

asked the Minister of Labour what representations have been made to him regarding the introduction of foreign labour on farms in this country.

I have received no such representations from either side of the industry, but the suggestion has been put to me by a number of hon. Members.

Home Guard (Pensioners' Rights)

42.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will give an assurance that no pensioner's right to his pension will be imperilled by reason of the fact that he has joined the Home Guard.

British Army

Z Reserve Call-Up

50.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will review the system of call-up for Z Reserve training, so as to ensure that key craftsmen in the building industry are exempted and the building programme is not upset.

No. The period of training is only 15 days and the long notice given should enable most employers in building and other industries to make arrangements to avoid a dislocation. In addition, representations in individual cases in which exceptional difficulty may arise, such as when several key workers have been called up for training over the same period, are considered sympathetically on their merits.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will grant automatic deferment of call-up until the day after polling day to Z reservists who are nominated as candidates in the local government elections.

No. But any candidate who applies to the authority who sent him his call-up notice for a change of training dates can be sure that his request will be granted, where this is practicable, or that he will be exempted.

Army And Air Force (Annual) Act

51.

asked the Secretary of State for War when he will bring forward amending legislation to alter the date of the expiry of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act, from 30th April to 31st July.

Legislation to effect this change will be introduced in the other House today.

52.

asked the Secretary of State for War the composition and terms of reference of the Select Committee on the review of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act.

The appointment of this Select Committee and the nomination of its Members are being discussed through the usual channels and will be the subjects of separate Motions to be introduced in due course.

Trade And Commerce

Macclesfield Textile Design (Infringement)

55.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that a textile firm in Macclesfield which has a certificate of registered design No. 430143, is exporting to West Africa cloth which is sold there at 6s. 4d. per yard, and which has been copied by the Japanese who are selling in the same market at 1s. 9d. per yard; and what steps he is taking to prevent this infringement.

We were not aware of the case referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend but, as I said in my letter to him of 18th April if he will supply my right hon. Friend with full details, he will consider having the matter taken up with the Japanese Government. I presume that the owners of the design are considering taking legal action, if they have not already taken such action, to prevent the sale in West Africa of goods which infringe their design.

Hotel Project, London

56.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the fact that London hotels are not filled to capacity for many months in the year and that already the owners of one large modern West End hotel have applied for permission to sell their premises for use as offices, he will refrain from giving licences for the construction of a large new hotel while the present housing shortage exists.

I cannot accept the implications in my hon. Friend's Question. London is very short of modern first-class hotel accommodation during the season from March to October, and any reduction in the number of hotels would obviously worsen the position. No decision has yet been reached on the proposal that a new hotel should be built in London, but it would be wrong to assume that this project would necessarily conflict with the housing programme.

Moscow Trade Conference

58.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what authority the recent British delegation to the International Trade Conference in Moscow had to negotiate agreements; and if any definite proposals have been made to Her Majesty's Government by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or China as a result of this conference.

59.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reports he has received on trading arrangements made between British nationals and Governments of countries beyond the Iron Curtain at the recent Moscow conference; and whether export licences will be granted for the fulfilment by the British nationals of their parts in these arrangements.

60.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on contracts arising out of the recent Economic Conference in Moscow.

Her Majesty's Government was not invited to send representatives to this conference, and the members of the British delegation had no authority to negotiate any formal trade agreement.We have received no proposals from the Governments of the U.S.S.R. or of China following the conference. The Board of Trade have received reports from certain individual members of the delegation, but it is still not clear precisely what exchanges of goods are envisaged. It is understood that the main Russian interest was in the purchase of textiles, particularly wool tops and worsted yarns to the value of about £2 million, in return for the purchase by us of certain foodstuffs.In the case of China, an exchange of goods each way to the value of £10 million is apparently contemplated, comprising sales of textiles of various kinds, chemicals and metals against a variety of Chinese products. As far as is known, no firm contracts have yet been made. I cannot say whether applications for import and export licences, where these are necessary, would be granted in all cases. That must depend on the nature of the goods and our licensing policy, especially as regards the export of strategic materials.If contracts for the sale of textiles and other consumer goods from the United Kingdom are concluded as a result of the conference, we should naturally welcome this outcome. But I would remind the House that merchants in this country and in the Far East have always been ready to sell such goods to Russia and China, and the Board of Trade has lost no opportunity of impressing upon the Soviet Trade Delegation here our interest in trade of this kind.

Textiles (Government Contracts)

61.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what he intends doing to assist silk and rayon industries in this country which are at the present going through a difficult time, in the same way as the cotton and wool industries.

I am well aware of the present difficulties of the silk and rayon industries. The placing of additional defence contracts to a total of £20-£25 million, on which urgent action is now proceeding, is designed to bring direct and speedy assistance to those textile areas which are most severely affected by the current recession and by the lack of available opportunities for alternative employment. It is not intended to confine these contracts to the cotton and wool industries, but all orders placed must be for such textile goods as are needed to meet our defence requirements.

70.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer over what period he proposes that Government contracts to the value of £25 million shall be placed with textile firms.

A good start has already been made with the issue of invitations to tender and it is expected that the contract operation for the additional orders of £20 million-£25 million will be completed in about two months.

71.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the value of uncompleted contracts between Government Departments and textile firms at 7th April; and whether such sum was included in the £25 million of defence contracts to be placed by the Government as a palliative of the present recession in the textile industry.

The answer to the first part of the Question is approximately £61 million; and to the second part, No.

79.

asked the Minister of Supply what procedure should be adopted by local authorities or textile firms wishing to derive advantage from the placing of defence contracts.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to him yesterday. No special procedure is required. The purchasing Departments have their trade lists of textile firms and invitations to tender are being issued.

Jute Control (Trading Profit)

78.

asked the Secretary for Overseas Trade, as representing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, how much has been surrendered to the Treasury by the Jute Control since its inception arising from the profits on its operations.

The trading profit of the Jute Control amounted to approximately £7,500,000 from the start of its operations in 1939 to 31st March, 1952. Funds surplus to the Control's immediate requirements for trading purposes are surrendered to the Exchequer, and advances are obtained from the Exchequer as required to finance current transactions.

National Finance

Hydrocarbon Oils (Duty)

65.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what terms he has replied to the letter relating to the petrol tax, dated 26th March, addressed to him by the Chairman of the British Road Federation.

With the agreement of the Federation, the text of my reply is given below.7th April, 1952.DEAR LORD SANDHURST,You wrote to me on 26th March about the recent increase in the duty on hydrocarbon oils.I am afraid that I do not think it would be appropriate for me to comment in detail on this subject so shortly before the question is likely to be debated in Parliament on the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill. I am sure you will appreciate this. I can, however, assure your Federation that full weight was given to the considerations referred to in your letter of 10th December, 1951, but for the reasons given in my Budget Speech, I came to the conclusion that notwithstanding the arguments on the other side, the additional revenue required to finance the important reductions in taxation had to be obtained by an increase in the duty on these oils.Yours sincerely,(Sgd.) R. A. BUTLER.The Lord Sandhurst, O.B.E.

75.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much he estimates was obtained in petrol tax from industry and agriculture, respectively, in respect of light hydrocarbon oils used for purposes other than transport in the financial years 1938–39, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1950–51 and 1951–52; and how much he expects to obtain in the year 1952–53.

The figures are as follows:

ESTIMATED RECEIPTS OF DUTY FROM LIGHT HYDROCARBON OILS USED FOR NON-TRANSPORT PURPOSES IN INDUSTRY AND AGRICULTURE
£ million
1938–391948–491949–501950–511951–521952–53 (expected receipts)
Industry3·35·25·210·814·319·8
Agriculture0·41·71·94·15·37·5
NOTE: There were increases in the rate of duty in April 1950, April 1951, and March, 1952.

Purchase Tax

66.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can estimate what percentage of articles, made from cotton or wool cloth which is free of Purchase Tax, attracts Purchase Tax when made up.

I regret there is no available information on which such an estimate could be made.

Name of CompanyPrice paid for sharesOther Financial Arrangements
(1)(2)(3)
1. JOHN FOWLER & SONS (LEEDS) LTD.£45,000 paid for 20,000 £10 ordinary shares, i.e., 45s. per share. As a result of arbitration Proceedings Price was increased to 75s. per share. Further payment, including interest—£32,769. TOTAL £77,769.1st May, 1945. Shares sold for £380,000. Before completion, by arrangements with purchasers, the 20,000 ordinary shares of £10 each were converted into 200,000 ordinary shares of £1 each, and £250,000, part of the Company's undivided profits and reserves, was capitalised into an issue to the Minister of 250,000 redeemable preference shares of £1 each. The 200,000 ordinary and 250,000 preference shares were transferred in consideration of the payment of £380,000.
2. BREN MANUFACTURING CO. LTD.£20,088 for 20,000 £1 ordinary shares. Ministry loaned the Company £50,000.June, 1945. Ministry loan capitalised into 50,000 £1 ordinary shares—70,000 shares sold for £72,500.
3. JOHN STIRK & SONS LTD.…3,000 £1 preference shares—paid 21s. 6d. per share. 17,000 £1 ordinary shares—paid £3 5s. 0d. per share. TOTAL price paid—£57,125. As a result of arbitration proceedings the prices to be paid were increased as follows:—1st May, 1945. Shares sold for £90,500. (Purchaser also repaid a loan of £30,000 made by the Ministry to the Company).
Preference shares—to 13s. 1½d. per share.
Ordinary shares—to £5 per share.
Further payment, including interest £32,588.
TOTAL PAYMENT—£89,713.

Defence Regulation 78

63.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a list of the cases in which his Department has consented to action being taken under Regulation 78 of the Defence Regulations, together with details of the financial arrangements made in each case.

Name of CompanyPrice paid for sharesOther Financial Arrangements
(1)(2)(3)

Shares

Price paid per share

s.d.
4. SHORT BROS. (ROCHESTER & BEDFORD) LTD.230,475 5% redeemable cum. pref.—£1 each.22342,002 of the 5% redeemable cum. pref. shares have been redeemed at 22s. per share.
581,302 ordinary—5s. each.293In July, 1947, the name of the Company was changed to S.B. (Realisations) Ltd.
250,000 "A" ordinary—5s. each.293The balance of the shares is still held by nominees of the Ministry of Supply.
TOTAL PURCHASE PRICE—£1,472,182

Note.—S.B. (Realisations) Ltd. is a holding Company, owning 82% of the capital of Short Bros. & Harland Ltd. of Belfast.

5. S. G. BROWN LTD., NORTH ACTON.Issued share capital was £30,000 in £1 shares (out of an authorised capital of £50,000). Shares purchased for £55,750.In 1947 approval was given to increase the authorised capital to £250,000 and the subscribed capital by £180,000 to £210,000; the 180,000 new shares at £1 each were then purchased for the Admiralty at par.
6. NOTTINGHAM & CLIFTON COLLIERY LTD.Issued share capital £20,000 in £1 ordinary shares. 6d. per share paid under the Nottingham & Clifton Colliery Ltd. (Price of Shares) Order, 1943.The property of the Nottingham and Clifton Colliery Ltd., was handed over to the National Coal Board at 31st December, 1946, by the Ministry of Fuel and Power. The property included the Clifton pit. At that date the total liability of the Colliery for Ministry advances stood at £179,751. Of this total £31,700 was advanced before the order under Regulation 78 was made. £507 was paid for purchase of the ordinary shares and £31,133 for purchase of debentures. Since the vesting date (31st December, 1946) there have been receipts due under the terms of the nationalisation Act, totalling £40,166 so that the net amount outstanding is now £139,485. Further sums will be received when compensation is finally assessed.

Wholesale And Capital Equipment Prices

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the percentage increase in wholesale prices over the average of 1947, 1948 and 1949; and what is the corresponding increase in the cost of capital equipment.

The latest figures of the increase in wholesale prices are given in Table 152 of the Monthly Digest of Statistics for March, 1952. In the fourth quarter of 1951 wholesale prices were 54 per cent. higher than the average of the three years 1947–49. Comprehensive figures of prices of capital equipment are not available but for a selection of items of plant, machinery, vehicles, building and civil engineering work, for which figures are collected, there was an increase of about 30 per cent. over the same period.

Annuities (Taxation)

68.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will recommend that the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income should consider the case of taxation on annuities.

This matter is being considered in the first instance by the Committee on the Taxation Treatment of Provisions for Retirement, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Millard Tucker, Q.C.

Farthings

69.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many farthings were minted during the last financial year; for what were they used; and whether he will discontinue the minting of them.

13,137,600 farthings were minted in the year ended 31st March, 1952, and 12,916,802 of these were issued in the United Kingdom. Coins of the various denominations are struck by the Royal Mint to meet the needs of the public as expressed through the Banks. The fact that the public needed nearly 13,000,000 farthings last year shows that it would be unwise to stop minting them.

Income Tax

72.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent, under his Regulations, employees whose lunches are provided free by their employers are liable to be assessed to Income Tax on the value thereof.

An employee is not normally chargeable with Income Tax in respect of lunches provided free by his employer, but in certain circumstances liability might arise under the special provisions of Chapter II of Part VI, Income Tax Act, 1952, relating to directors and highly-paid employees.

74.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what saving in administrative manpower has resulted from his Income Tax changes which have relieved 2,000,000 people of small incomes from liability to tax.

The changes do not begin to operate until after 7th June next. In the meantime, all the present staff is required for the necessary work of revising P.A.Y.E. code numbers. That is all I can say at present.

76.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislation to exempt from Income Tax the offerings made to incumbents on Easter Sunday.

I much regret that I cannot see my way to propose legislation relieving Easter offerings from the ordinary operation of the Income Tax law.

Civil Service (Working Conditions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action has been taken to implement the report of the study group appointed by Her Majesty's Treasury in 1947 to consider working conditions in the Civil Service.

I am afraid it is not possible within the reasonable compass of an answer to a Parliamentary Question to summarise the action taken on this report, which covered a very wide variety of subjects. If my hon. and gallant Friend will let me know any particular points in which he is interested, I will endeavour to send him the information.

Public Libraries (Borrower's Ticket Charges)

80.

asked the Minister of Education whether she is aware that certain local authorities are evading the provisions of the Public Libraries Act, 1892, by charging residents in their area for a borrower's ticket; and what action she proposes to take to prevent this abuse.

No, but if the hon. Member will tell me of any particular local authorities that he has in mind, I will make inquiries.

National Health Service, Scotland (Prescriptions)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of prescriptions dispensed in Scotland under the National Health Service for the latest convenient period of 12 months.

The number of prescription forms dispensed in the twelve months from April, 1951, to March, 1952, was 14,800,000, representing approximately 20,700,000 prescriptions.

Police (Wastage And Recruitment)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the balance between wastage and recruitment in the months of January, February and March, 1952, for the lower ranks of the police forces of England and Wales, giving separately the figures for the Metropolitan Police, all the county police forces

A. JANUARY TO MARCH, 1952
ForcesMonth (1952)MenWomen
RecruitmentWastageIncrease (+)RecruitmentWastageIncrease (+) or Decrease (-)
MetropolitanJanuary8749+3892+7
February9974+2546-2
March12461+6377
CountiesJanuary202110+92219+12
February23896+1421912+7
March202115+871916+3
Cities and boroughs.January16498+661512+3
February21794+123116+5
March16890+78106+4
B. 1ST AUGUST, 1951 TO 31ST MARCH, 1952
ForcesMenWomen
RecruitmentWastageIncrease (+)RecruitmentWastageIncrease (+)
Metropolitan749530+2196933+36
Counties1,932896+1,03614878+70
Cities and boroughs.1,541734+8079972+27
TOTAL4,2222,160+2,062316183+133

and all the county borough forces; and if he will give the total balance between wastage and recruitment of each group over the period 1st August, 1951, and 1st April, 1952.

Separate figures of wastage in the lower ranks are not available. The total figures of recruitment and wastage in the Police Service are as follows: