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Written Answers

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1952

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Written Answer To Questions

Wednesday, 30th April, 1952

Un Refugees Agency (Uk Representation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the British representation on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Her Majesty's Government are represented on the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees by Sir Henry Knight, who has the status of an Ambassador. He is assisted by an officer of the rank of Second Secretary in the Foreign Service.

Ussr (Debts To Mining Companies)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action is being taken by Her Majesty's Government to secure payment of the sums due in respect of the State Notes issued by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to Lena Goldfields Limited and the Tetiuhe Mining Corporation Limited in payment for the purchase of the plant and other assets of these companies, which notes have been in continuous default since 1940.

As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, the Soviet Government defaulted on these Notes when His late Majesty's Government, at the time of the incorporation of the Baltic States into the U.S.S.R., declined to surrender to the Soviet Government the gold assets held in the Bank of England in the account of the Central Banks of the three Baltic States. When the Soviet Government were last approached on this question in 1945 they replied that they were prepared to resume payments and liquidate the outstanding debts as soon as His late Majesty's Government, for their part, removed the sequestration on the Baltic gold. This proposal was unacceptable to His Majesty's Government.While there appears no immediate prospect of a satisfactory settlement, Her Majesty's Government will take every opportunity of pressing this claim on the Soviet authorities.

Mauritius (Teachers' Pensions)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the Budget Estimates of the Mauritian Government for 1952–53 contain no provisions for pensions to secondary teachers in aided Government schools; and why this is so.

I have not received a copy of the Mauritius draft Estimates for 1952–53. If no provision has been made therein for pensions to secondary school teachers it is presumably because the Bill authorising such pensions has not yet received assent.


Public Service


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what were the terms of reference for the Public Service Commission in Kenya; and when it will produce its report.

European Civil Servants (Baths)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why bathroom baths are supplied to houses for European civil servants in Kenya but not to those for Africans; and whether steps will be taken to ensure that substantially the same provision is made for each grade of civil servants whether European or African.

Mbaris (Land Losses)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been drawn to the protest, signed on behalf of the Agikuyu Mbaris in Kenya, against the proposal to compensate them for land lost owing to the building of roads and railways, by settling them on forest lands which the Mbaris claim is already their traditional property; and if he will urge upon the Kenya Government that compensation satisfactory to the Mbaris should be given.

West Africa

Women, Abeokuta (Water Rate)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the local authority that has reimposed a water rate on women in Abeokuta; and whether that decision is subject to supervision by any superior authority in Nigeria.

The Egba Native Authority, which includes women representatives, proposes to re-impose a water rate of 3s. per annum on women and to increase from 5s. to 10s. the water rate payable by men. This proposal is subject to approval by the Lieutenant Governor, Western Region, who has yet to consider it.

Secondary Schools, Nigeria (Fees)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many secondary schools in Nigeria have to depend upon school fees for their source of revenue.

All the secondary schools charge fees but the extent to which each school depends on this source of income varies. Fees are remitted in deserving cases.

Cocoa Tree Disease


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about the progress in dealing with swollen shoot in Nigeria.

The policy of preventing the spread of swollen shoot disease from the endemic area by rigorous control measures on its perimeter has been completely successful. New centres of infection have been small and few and have been dealt with satisfactorily without opposition from farmers.The evidence of new plantings by farmers has been particularly encouraging. Rehabilitation of the endemic area is succeeding. The people are being encouraged to plant oil palms citrus and new cocoa trees and the plants for this purpose are being grown in special nurseries.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement about the progress in dealing with swollen shoot in the Gold Coast.

The Government of the Gold Coast, having conducted an effective campaign of public education in this matter, have decided that general cutting out of diseased trees and replanting shall begin forthwith.In addition, measure for control of the disease will be started again in the devastated and mass-infected zones in the Colony. These were not originally included in the Government's New Deal.I have sent a message to the Government telling them of my great appreciation of their firm handling of this difficult problem. I will send my hon. Friend copies of two statements made in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly by the Minister of Agriculture.

Colonial Empire

African Railway Systems


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the survey of the proposed link-up of the Central and East African railway systems has been completed; and what decision has been reached with regard to the construction of this new line.

The survey has not yet been completed but is expected within the next few months.

Airport Services


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in drawing up estimates for Colonial development next year, he will bear in mind the need to provide airports and associated services and budget accordingly.

The provision of airports and associated services in colonial territories is primarily the responsibility of the Colonial Governments concerned. If a Colonial Government is unable to meet its local need for such services from its own resources it can submit an application for assistance from Colonial Development and Welfare funds. Several applications of this kind have already been approved.

Development Corporation Report


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation will be published before the Whitsun Recess.

Tanganyika (Constitution)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any decisions have yet been reached with regard to the proposals for constitutional changes in Tanganyika.

I hope to receive the Governor's final recommendations on certain of the Constitution Development Committee's proposals within the next two months and a decision on these proposals will then be taken as soon as possible. The remaining proposals must await the report of the special Commissioner, which will probably not be available before October.

Royal Navy

Regular Seamen (Discharge)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will give an assurance that Regular sailors who have been retained for a further 18 months will be discharged at the end of that period.

Yes, unless they voluntarily re-engage or otherwise extend their period of service.

Letters To Members


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what regulations he has made affecting the right of a sailor to approach his Member of Parliament.

None. The regulations on the subject of complaints, etc., have been in force in substantially their present form for many years and have worked well. If a man has a grievance to represent or a suggestion to make on a matter connected with the Service, it is much better in his own interest and that of the Service that he should, in the first place, put it forward through the channels laid down in the regulations. If instead of taking that course, he approaches his Member of Parliament, disciplinary action is not taken against him for that reason.

Marines' Kit Allowance


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the present amount of allowance out of which Royal Marines have to buy such items as battle-dress, greatcoat and boots; if he will publish in HANSARD a full list of these items, together with their current prices; and what additional allowance is made when Royal Marines are ordered to buy new kit for special occasions such as the Royal Tournament.

Royal Marines receive kit upkeep allowance to maintain their regulation kits. The current annual rates for men on regular engagements are £18 10s. for senior non-commissioned officers and £17 10s. for other noncommissioned officers and men. I am sending the hon. Member a list of the articles and the current prices.Kits have to be maintained in proper condition and kit upkeep allowance is paid for this specific purpose. If a man's kit is found to be of low standard at any time he is required to bring it up to standard without any special allowance being paid.

Contracts, Lancashire


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the instruction contained in D.D.S. (G.S.) Memorandum No. 26 of his Department, dated 5th February, 1952, to the effect that no contracts other than those already placed or under negotiation are to be placed in the Preston, Chorley and Blackburn area, has yet been withdrawn.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has yet reconsidered the memorandum of his Department imposing a ban on his Department's contracts in the Preston, Chorley and Blackburn area; and whether he will now withdraw it.

Yes. In the course of the continuous review of the availability of labour in this area the memorandum has been withdrawn.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what contracts for textiles have been placed in Blackburn by his Department since 5th February, 1952; and to what value.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what engineering contracts have been placed in Blackburn by his Department since 5th February, 1952; and to what value.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what contracts have been placed in Preston and Walton-le-Dale Urban District in the years 1951 and 1952; and whether, in view of the severe local unemployment he will now endeavour to place contracts of all kinds in this area.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what contracts

Comparative Table showing Old and New Rates
Shore-Based Personnel
Single AccommodatedSingle UnaccommodatedMarried AccommodatedMarried Unaccommodated
Flag Officer303390146140139180150
Captain over 6 years2921183133130126170139
Captain under 6 years262776120120113160126
Lieutenant-Commander and below232369109110100150113
Sergeant Major, Royal Marines141990106130149
Chief Petty Officer12168696126136
Petty Officer10138086120123
Other Ratings10107676116110
(i) Increases for single personnel effective from 1st March, 1951, and for married ratings, partly from 1st March, 1951, and partly from 1st January, 1952. Reductions effective from 1st March, 1952.
(ii) Rates for married accompanied personnel serving afloat are equivalent to the appropriate married rates in the above table reduced by the corresponding single accommodated rate.

for textiles have been placed in Lancashire during the years 1951 and 1952, respectively; and what further contracts he is placing.

It is not the practice to publish information of this kind. However, I can give the hon. Members an assurance that the areas in question are considered when invitations to tender are issued. A substantial number of contracts have been placed in these districts over the past few months, and there is every likelihood that they will benefit from further orders as the year proceeds.

Local Overseas Allowance, Malta


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what are the current rates of local overseas allowance in Malta for officers, chief petty officers, petty officers and men; when was the most recent adjustment in each grade; in what direction; and by how much.

Ships (Oil Pollution)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what active measures he has in force for the prevention of pollution by oil of the waters lying within the dockyard ports, with especial reference to Portsmouth; what orders apply to Her Majesty's ships on this subject; what penalties can be imposed under Queen's Regulations for contravention of these orders; and what supervision of merchant ships is maintained within the dockyard ports.

The Queen's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions clearly lay it down that oil must not be discharged in port. Commanders-in-Chief and the Admiralty take a serious view of an infringement of this instruction. Such offences are, I am glad to say, very rare. The penalty imposed on any individual would depend on the gravity of his misdemeanour.Merchant ships are supervised by the Queen's Harbour Master, who would report any offence forthwith. If there were sufficient evidence, a prosecution would be instituted under the Oil in Navigable Waters Act, 1922.

Telephone Service



asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will consult the British Electricity Authority as to the possibility of the use of existing poles carrying overhead telephone lines to carry the electric mains in addition, and so hasten and cheapen the distribution of electricity in rural areas.

Agreements were made last year with the British Electricity Authority and the area electricity boards for the joint use of poles by these authorities and the Post Office where it is technically possible to do so. The practice has been going on for some time informally, and is being encouraged as much as possible.

Kiosk, Reigate


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will provide a telephone kiosk for the use of the residents of the Woodhatch Estate, Reigate.

West Ham


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General, for the latest convenient date, the number of persons on the waiting list for installation of telephone services in the county borough of West Ham.

On 31st March 1,983 applications were outstanding at the three main exchanges serving the borough, and 764 applications were in course of being met or were under inquiry.

West Riding

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many applications for the installation of telephones in the West Riding of Yorkshire were still outstanding at the latest convenient date; and at what rate he expects to reduce this figure.

Excluding those under inquiry or in course of being met, there were 19,214 applications outstanding on 31st March, 1952. There is a steady fresh demand for telephone service, but about 18,000 lines are expected to be connected during the next 12 months.


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what alteration he is making in those rentals which are fixed by agreement, for telegraph and other private wires and for exchange line services, that is, those not covered by Telephone Amendment (No. 2) Regulations, 1952.

It is proposed in the comparatively limited number of special installations referred to which are not covered by the Telephone Regulations to increase, as from 1st July, 1952, the rentals up to 50 per cent. over the prewar rates. This is the same basis as is being applied to installations covered by the Regulations.

Bbc Charter


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will now make a statement as to his proposed arrangements with regard to broadcasting after the present agreement with the British Broadcasting Corporation terminates.

The Government expect to make their views known to Parliament in about two weeks.

Post Office

Buses (Posting Boxes)


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will now reintroduce facilities for posting letters in special boxes attached to late buses from rural areas.

Posting boxes on buses are already used in some rural areas where a satisfactory service cannot be provided in other ways, but their introduction as a means of providing late evening collections in country districts generally would make calls on manpower which would be difficult to justify in present circumstances.



asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when the new 5s. and 2s. 6d. books containing a supply of 1½d. stamps will be available for the public.

They have been available at many Post Offices since about the middle of March, but the old books are continuing to be sold until stocks are exhausted.

Compulsory Retirements


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he will suspend the operation of compulsory retirement on age grounds, pending the outcome of discussions on the Whitley Council.

No. To change the present practice before the views of the Staff Side have been received would be a complete break with our long-established procedure of consultation.

National Service Men (Pay)


asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether it is the practice of his Department to allow National Service men recalled for compulsory training to have this period at full pay less Service pay and allowances.

No. In accordance with general Civil Service regulations, National Service men have the option of taking special leave without pay or using their annual leave for the whole or part of the period.

Royal Air Force

Dilutees (Working Party)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what progress has been made by the Working Party which is considering the question of dilutees working on Air Ministry establishments; and how soon their report is expected.

This Working Party, which was set up by the former Secretary of State for Air to consider problems arising from the operation of the Temporary Relaxation of Existing Customs Agreement, 1939, and which consisted of three representatives of the Amalgamated Engineering Union and three officials of the Air Ministry, met twice last year under the chairmanship of the then Under-Secretary of State.Following these meetings no formal report was submitted, but the Air Ministry drafted a proposed modification of the 1939 Agreement for consideration by the Executive of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. The latter were unable to accept it and have not put forward any alternative proposal.My noble Friend and the Minister of Labour are most anxious to find a satisfactory solution to these problems and I am proposing to invite the Amalgamated Engineering Union to further talks.

Honington Camp (Duties)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that nursing and dental staffs at Honing-ton Royal Air Force Camp are being armed to attend certain parades, and if his Department's permission has been obtained in accordance with A.M.O. 6/51; and if he will also inquire into the use on this station of Royal Air Force personnel for private car cleaning.

I understand that nursing and dental orderlies at Royal Air Force Station Honington have been carrying rifles on ceremonial drill parades, with which Air Ministry Order A.6/51 is not concerned.

Inquiries into the use of Royal Air Force personnel for cleaning private cars on that Station have not revealed any abuse of Q.R. and A.C.I. paragraph 1964 (7), which permits Royal Air Force personnel to clean and service private cars standing in authorised parking places, provided the work is done outside normal working hours and is authorised by the commanding officer.

Requisitioned Properties, Biggin Hill (Compensation)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many residents in houses adjoining Biggin Hill aerodrome have had to quit their properties, particulars of which have been sent to him; and if he will arrange for full compensation based on present-day valuations.

Six families will be affected by our acquisition of properties in the flying approaches of Biggin Hill airfield. A week-end bungalow and an empty house are also being acquired. Compensation will be paid in accordance with the appropriate statutory provisions.

Crashed Aircraft


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether any information has yet been received regarding the aircraft reported missing on 8th February from Hullavington to Malta, and regarding the fate of its occupants.

Yes. After a protracted search, in which the Royal Air Force and the French rescue authorities took part, the wreckage of this aircraft, which was engaged in an overseas navigation training flight to Malta, was found on a mountain peak in Southern France after the snow had cleared. I regret to say that the crew of six and the one passenger had sustained fatal injuries.The usual court of inquiry was assembled and the president and the technical member of the court visited the scene of the crash. It has been found impossible to establish the cause of the accident, but there are indications that the aircraft was off course before the accident occurred.I am sure that the House will join me in extending deep sympathy to the relatives of the deceased airmen.

Accommodation, Fayid


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the billets of Royal Air Force, Fayid, which were built to hold 28 men, now accommodate 50; and what steps he is taking to remedy this unhealthy billeting of Royal Air Force men in an area which has been declared to be malarial and whose temperatures reach 100°F. in the shade.

As a result of the reinforcement of the Canal Zone, accommodation for officers and men at Fayid is admittedly overcrowded by peace time standards. Extra space is being provided in tents and in vacant married quarters and the situation is being closely watched by the Service medical authorities. There has been no case of malaria among Royal Air Force personnel in Fayid in the past six months.

Range, Tollesbury (Dredging)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how soon the hon. Member for Maldon may expect a reply to his letter of 19th March concerning the request of some Tollesbury fishermen to dredge a bombing and shooting range for brass shell cases.

I am sorry that I have not yet been able to send a detailed letter to the hon. Member. The information which was to form the basis of my reply had been collated early in April, but it was decided to seek further information on certain aspects from the command concerned. Unfortunately, this was not made clear in the interim letter addressed to the hon. Member on 23rd April.I will write fully when the local investigations have been completed.

Auxiliary Officers (Vaccination And Inoculation)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how far Auxiliary Air Force officers, now going abroad, are required to be vaccinated and inoculated; and, in the case of an officer who declines these operations, whether his regulations enable such an officer to be held back on that account.

Vaccination and inoculation are both voluntary and an officer or airman who declines to undergo them is not debarred by the regulations from proceeding overseas. However, as the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons will be abroad for only 14 days this summer, the risks of infection or detention abroad under local quarantine restrictions might justify our arranging for a member of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force who declines to be vaccinated or inoculated to carry out his training with one of the Units which is not going abroad.

Shipping (Working Party Recommendations)


asked the Minister of Transport what percentage of the recommendations of the Working Party on the Turn-Round of Shipping and the improvements of our ports have been implemented; and when he hopes to put the remainder into effect.

The Report of the Working Party on the Turn-Round of Shipping contained 26 general recommendations and 275 separate recommendations relating to individual ports. All these recommendations were investigated in conjunction with the interests concerned. The extent to which they could be and were put into effect varied, and a percentage analysis is, therefore, not possible, but the majority have been implemented in whole or in part.

Education (Social And Recreational Grants)


asked the Minister of Education how much has been spent in providing social and recreational training under Section 53 of the Education Act, 1944, in each of the last five years; how much it is estimated will be spent in the ensuing year; what steps she is taking to avoid wasteful expenditure under this head; and what is the nature of social and recreational training which qualifies for this grant.

The figures asked for in the first part of the Question are as follow:

1947–48£2,937,000 (actual)
1948–49£3,609,000 (actual)
1949–50£3,902,000 (actual)
1950–51£3,603,000 (actual)
1951–52£4,199,000 (estimated)

The expenditure of authorities for 1952–53 is now estimated at slightly over £4 million. This is more than £600,000 less than the corresponding figure in their forecasts for 1952–53 and reflects the review of expenditure under this head which I asked authorities to undertake in Circular 242, a copy of which I am sending my hon. Friend. The facilities which may be provided or assisted by authorities under Section 53 of the Act include youth and community centres, playing-fields, swimming, camping, play centres and school journeys.

Fireworks Act (Enforcement)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department is taking to enforce the provisions of the Fireworks Act, 1951.

The requirements of the Act have been brought to the notice of fireworks manufacturers, importers and licensing authorities. The inspections carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Explosives have disclosed no infringements of the Act.

Ministry Of Supply (Italian Machine Tool)

asked the Minister of Supply why an Italian-manufactured automatic machine tool designed by a British firm and selling in the United Kingdom at £1,200 when manufactured in this country, is being bought by his Department for £1,800; and whether the delivery dates are so much better in the case of the imported article as to justify this increased cost.

I regret that I cannot, on the information given, identify the particular transaction to which my hon. Friend refers. It was necessary to buy certain types of machine tool from Italy because the United Kingdom industry could not supply them in sufficient quantities to meet defence needs in full.

Agriculture (Wages)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in submitting an increased offer of £50 million to farmers, any subvention was included in his calculation for increased wages to farm workers.

The recent award of £39 million to meet increased farm costs made no provision for any future increases in minimum rates of wages.

Ministry Of Food

Food Prices

asked the Minister of Food if he will give a list of the increases since devaluation of the £ in the prices of foods that have to be obtained in part from hard currency countries.

The following are the percentage increases in recent sterling f.o.b. prices over those paid immediately prior to devaluation of the £ for foods purchased on Government account in part from dollar countries:

CommodityPercentage Increase


asked the Minister of Food how the estimated import of bananas this year compares with the import of bananas last year and the pre-war rate of import.

We hope to import about 180,000 tons of bananas this year which compares with 161,000 tons in 1951 and a pre-war import of about 300,000 tons.

Re-Armament Expenditure

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the expenditure on re-armament in the financial years ended 31st March, 1951, and 31st March, 1952, respectively; and what was the average percentage of profit allowed on re-armament contracts.

Defence expenditure (as defined in Annex II to the annual Statements on Defence) amounted to £795 million in 1950–51 and is provisionally computed at £1,118 million in 1951–52. It is not possible to arrive at an average rate of profit on defence contracts. Wherever possible contracts are placed by competition. When competition is not available, the aim is to negotiate prices giving a fair return on capital employed, with special regard to the criteria approved by the 14th Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure 1942–43 (House of Commons Paper No. 126 of 1943).

National Assistance, West Riding

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many men and women in the West Riding of Yorkshire are receiving National Assistance.

At 25th March last regular weekly grants of National Assistance were being paid to about 115,000 persons in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The needs of wives or other dependants are included in these grants. Separate figures for men and women are not available.

University Education, Dundee (Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has yet received the Report of the Royal Commission on University Education in Dundee; and whether he has any statement to make.

Yes. I have received the Report, which is being presented to Parliament today, and its recommendations are being considered. Legislation will be required before these can be implemented. There is no prospect of legislation in the present Session, but the Government fully realise the urgency of the matter.I have conveyed to Lord Tedder and the members of the Commission the warm thanks of Her Majesty's Government for the thoroughness and expedition with which they have carried out their inquiry.