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Written Answers

Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 1st February, 1954

Ministry Of Food Rationed Foods (Take-Up)

asked the Minister of Food the non-take up of all rationed foods for each monthly period since the date when these figures were last published.

The following table shows for recent ration periods the extent to which deliveries of rationed

UNDER-DELIVERIES OF RATIONED FOODS. SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 1953
NOTE: The symbol + indicates deliveries in excess of entitlement on the four-weekly basis.
Four-week Period endedBacon (a)MeatButter
'000 tonsPercent.Equivalent rations million'000 tonsPercentEquivalent rations million'000 tonsPercent.Equivalent rations million
3rd October1·852·7+4·0+32·02·184·6
31st October5·5148·11·810·90·831·8
28th November4·8137·1+1·6+1+0·80·731·9
26th December
(provisional)4·1116·02·521·30·531·5
Four-week Period endedMargarineCooking FatCheese
'000 tonsPercent.Equivalent rations million'000 tonsPercent.Equivalent rations million'000 tonsPercent.Equivalent rations million
3rd October5·62112·44·03117·61·3117·4
31st October1·974·31·9148·10·864·2
28th November4·6148·21·4105·93·32013·5
26th December
(provisional)3·8116·71·3105·75·32414·5
(a) Deliveries of unrationed Category C bacon were as follows:—
'000 tons
Period to 3rd October9·8
Period to 31st October8·6
Period to 28th November8·2
Period to 26th December7·4

Pensions And National Insurance

National Service Men

39.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if the number of National Service men invalided out of the Forces who claimed pension during each of the years 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953, respectively, and the comparative figures of those whose claims were granted.

:I am unable to give the information in the precise form asked for in the Question. It is estimated, however, that in 1953 out of some 4,900 National Service men invalided from the Forces about 1,700 were awarded pensions.

Retirement Pensions

40.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what he estimates would be the saving in Government contribution to the National Insurance Fund and to the National Assistance Board if there were a separate fund for retirement pensions maintained directly by the Exchequer, and assuming the basic retirement pension to be £2 10s. per person, per week.

:The annual Exchequer payments at present made in respect of National Insurance contributions and National Assistance would be reduced by sums of the order of £35 million and £30 million, respectively. The Exchequer, however, would incur a direct annual liability in respect of retirement pensions of about £560 million immediately, rising to £1,080 million in 25 years' time; these sums would be larger if the equivalent of the existing contribution conditions could not be maintained.

41.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what reduction he estimates would be possible in the employed persons contribution to the National Insurance Fund if there were a separate fund for retirement pensions maintained directly by the Exchequer.

The reduction would be nearly half the employed person's contribution for National Insurance benefits.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will give an estimate of the increase that would be possible in the basic rate of the retirement pension if the Exchequer contribution were increased at the same rate, per cent., as that of the employed person.

I am not clear what contribution increases the hon. Member has in mind, but I must point out that even at present rates of retirement pension there will be an increasing excess of expenditure over income to be provided for.

National Insurance (Contributions)

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what estimate he has made of the additional contribution required from the Exchequer in order to raise the Government contribution to the National Insurance Fund to the same percentage proportion as the increased contributions by the employed persons.

Timber (Stockpiling)

51.

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, how many sites are in existence in Great Britain for the stockpile of timber on national account; what is the annual rental paid for these sites; what is the value of the timber stored; and, in view of the fact that some of the timber has been stored in the open for several years, what steps he is taking to dispose of the stocks.

It is not the practice to give any public indication of the size of strategic stockpiles. Timber in this stockpile is well dispersed over a number of sites, is kept under inspection and is disposed of and replaced as may be necessary.

International Law Commission

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for how long the International Law Commission has been engaged on the work of codifying international law, and, in particular, on the preparation of a draft code of offences against the peace and security of mankind; and when it expects to complete its task.

:The International Law Commission held its first Session in 1949, in which year it started work on the Draft Code to which the hon. and learned Members refers. I understand that the Commission propose to carry their work on this Code further at the Session which they are due to hold in May this year. As regards their task of codifying international law in general, I do not think that the members of the Commission have ever expected to complete their labours within any specified period.

Sudan (Egyptian Minister's Visit)

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement on the Sudan of 12th February, 1953, provides for self-determination to be carried out in a free and neutral atmosphere, he will make representations to the Egyptian Government about the visit to the Sudan of the Egyptian Minister for National Guidance.

Her Majesty's Ambassador in Cairo has already made representations to the Egyptian Government on this subject. Article 1 of the Anglo/Egyptian Agreement on the Sudan says that the purpose of the present transitional period of self-government is to enable the Sudanese to exercise self-determination in a free and neutral atmosphere. It is therefore fundamental to the Agreement that the two contracting parties should not engage in activities which are designed to defeat that purpose.The Egyptian Minister concerned has been quoted by the Press as saying that his visit is "private and unofficial." We are quite unable to accept the description "private and unofficial" of this visit to the Sudan by the Minister of National Guidance in the Egyptian Government. The facts speak for themselves. He is the Minister in the Egyptian Government responsible for internal and external propaganda. He was accompanied by the Minister of War in the Egyptian Government and by a large following of journalists and photographers, all transported in special Egyptian military aircraft, and his visit has lasted more than two weeks and taken him to all parts of the Sudan.

Greece (Political Prisoners)

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider making representations to the Greek Government, seeking release of all of their own nationals, who are still held in Greek prisons, for alleged political offences; and, in the event of refusal, whether he will consider with drawing from all treaties and obligations with Greece.

Germany (Nazi Victims)

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that there is no discrimination in the payment of compensation by the West German Government to victims of Nazi concentration camps on grounds of nationality.

Her Majesty's Government have taken up this question in the Allied High Commission and the Commission has despatched a tripartite letter to the German Federal Chancellor drawing his attention to the matter.

Spain (Demonstrations)

57.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, when conveying his protest against the recent demonstrations in Spain with reference to Gibraltar, he will intimate to the Spanish Government that both the British and the Moors have been in occupation of Gibraltar for a longer historical period than Spain.

No. The right hon. Gentleman is historically accurate, but Her Majesty's Government have already informed the Spanish Government that they are not prepared to discuss Gibraltar.

East Coast Sea Defences

58.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is satisfied that, during the year which has elapsed since the great flood disaster, such progress has been made in the rebuilding and improvement of the sea defences that security against flooding is now, in all cases, greater than it was on the night of 31st January, 1953; and if he will make a statement.

59.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is satisfied with the progress made in repairing and strengthening the sea defences breached or weakened in the East Coast flood disaster a year ago; and whether he will make a statement.

River boards have made outstanding progress with the reconstruction and improvement of the sea defences damaged by last year's floods. The defences are now as good as, and in many places stronger than, they were before. Where they protect important urban and industrial areas or large areas of farm land they have been greatly improved. Work costing some £24 million has been undertaken and about £20 million worth is already completed; the remainder should be finished before the end of this year.The planning and execution of the work done in the past 12 months would normally take about 12 years to do. This achievement is a great credit to the river boards and all concerned. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that, if the exceptional conditions of a year ago occurred again, adequate protection would be given to all the main areas which were then flooded. The need for further works will be considered in the light of the report of the Waverley Committee, which we hope to have before Easter.

Agriculture

Egg Production

60.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the policy of his Department with regard to the future subsidising of egg production.

The Government's policy is to provide the support necessary for the home production of eggs required in the national interest, in accordance with the 1947 Agriculture Act.

Wheat And Barley

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will announce as early as possible the amount of wheat and barley it is desired should be planted this year so that farmers can decide which crops they should plant.

As explained in the White Paper following the Annual Review 1952 (Cmd. 8556), the Government do not intend to set detailed cropping targets. I attach great importance, however, to a large tillage area and consider that the guarantees for crops of the 1954 harvest, of which details have recently been published, should secure it.

Grass (Retarding Chemicals)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what chemicals are used by his Department for retarding the growth of grass.

No chemicals are used by my Department for retarding the growth of grass.

Flood Damage (Financial Aid And Reconstruction)

61.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is satisfied that sufficient special financial help has been, and will be, given to local authorities who have suffered loss from the floods on the night of 31st January, 1953; and if he will state the amount of such help given during the year which has elapsed.

The financial help given will be sufficient to prevent any undue burden falling on local rates. Final settlements cannot be made until complete expenditure figures are available, but substantial payments on account have been made. The total amount paid to date to all local authorities other than river boards is £434,490.

62.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will make a statement on the progress made in the rebuilding and repair of houses and roads in the year which has elapsed since the great flood disaster of 31st January, 1953.

I understand from the Lord Mayor's Fund that about 75 per cent, of the repairable houses damaged in the floods last year have been completely repaired. I have no information about the 500 houses or so which were totally destroyed. Precise information about progress on damaged roads is not readily available, but taking the East Coast as a whole, the work seems well forward.

Housing

Sub-Standard Houses

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in order to secure a uniform standard of judgment, he will issue a considered basis for the use by local authorities in determining what is meant by "sub-standard houses."

:I would refer the hon. Member to Clause 7 of the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill now before the House.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if, in order to obtain reliable information upon the extent to which sub-standard houses remain in occupation throughout the country, he will issue instructions to local authorities to carry out a survey.

:I would refer the hon. Member to Clause 1 of the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill which is now before the House. Under that Clause I intend to ask local authorities to submit an estimate of the total problem in their areas and an initial programme for slum clearance and repairs. I am aware that complete proposals cannot in many cases be drawn up before a further survey has been carried out, but I consider that the first step should be to get an agreed programme for immediate action.

Reconditioning Schemes (Architects' Fees)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware that many housing reconditioning schemes are being delayed in order to enable architects' fees to be claimed in respect thereof under the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill; and what action he proposes to take to stop delays on this account.

:I am not aware of any delay on this account, but if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of the cases he has in mind, I shall be glad to look into them.

Roads

North Scotland Hydro-Electric Board Scheme

63.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how much of the cost of the new road projected under Scheme 23, known as the Moriston Project, of the North of Scot land Hydro-Electric Board will be borne by his Department; and what proportion this is of the total expenditure of constructing these roads along the Southern and Eastern edges of Loch Loyne.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "None, Sir"; and therefore the second part does not arise.

64.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the cost of the recent development of the road from Tomdoun to Cluanie Inn, of which some nine miles are now to be abandoned under Scheme 23 (b) of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board; what is the estimated cost of the roads to be constructed, firstly, from the Tom doun—Cluanie road to the dam at the North-East end of Loch Loyne, and, secondly, the road from the termination of road diversion, Work No. 26, to the dam at the North-East end of Loch Loyne; and what proportion of this is to be borne by his Department.

Within the last three years £2,000 has been spent on resurfacing about one mile South of Loyne Bridge. Since the war £14,000 has been spent on soil stabilisation North of Loyne Bridge. No part of the cost of the works referred to in the second part of the Question will be borne by my Department. We are not in possession of the estimates referred to, but I am asking my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to obtain them for my hon. and gallant Friend.

Accidents

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation in what circumstances accidents on pavements and foot- paths are included in road accident figures; and in what circumstances they are excluded.

:All accidents on pavements and footpaths which form part of a public highway are included.

Hm Ships (Malicious Damage)

65.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the recent incidents of malicious damage in Her Majesty's ships.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 28th January to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. J. J. Astor).

Undistributed Profits (Tax Relief)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total amount of relief from Profits Tax granted on undistributed profits since 1947 to the latest available date.

Approximately £1,050 million under assessments made up to 30th September, 1953, the latest date for which figures are available. In arriving at this total the relief relating to chargeable accounting periods ending at or before the end of 1951 has been halved so as to correspond with the amount which would be recoverable as a distribution charge under the provisions of the Seventh Schedule to the Finance Act 1952.

Ministry Of Works

Grass (Retarding Chemicals)

asked the Minister of Works what chemicals are used by his Department for retarding the growth of grass.

Uranium Supplies (Commonwealth Agreements)

asked the Minister of Works whether he has reached agreement with the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia for the regular supply of uranium ore to the United Kingdom.

Agreements between the Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia and of South Australia and the joint Anglo-American uranium purchasing Agency for supplies of uranium already exist.

Old Age Pensioners (Prescription Charges)

asked the Minister of Health what would be the approximate cost of enabling old age pensioners to obtain medicine free and without having to pay for prescriptions.

:Many old age pensioners are already entitled to have the charges for prescriptions refunded. It is estimated that the additional cost of relieving all old age pensioners of these charges would be of the order of £900,000 a year.

West Scotland Agricultural College (Survey)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will, in the neat future, authorise the West of Scotland Agricultural College to carry out an economic survey of the islands of Argyll, similar to that which was carried out by the East of Scotland Agricultural College and the North-East of Scotland Agricultural College, with a view to ascertaining the financial and economic position of the various types of farms on the islands.

:The West of Scotland College has for many years past conducted throughout the whole of its area, which includes Argyll, an investigation into the economic and financial position of farms of various types. The location of the farms selected for this investigation is at the discretion of the College. I have not been asked by the West of Scotland Agricultural College to authorise any other economic survey.

British Guiana (Garrison Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for War the total cost of sending soldiers to British Guiana and maintaining them there up to 31st December; and what is his estimate of the weekly expenditure likely to be incurred in the current year.

The extra cost up to 31st December, 1953, including the cost of movement, has been about £100,000. The extra cost of maintenance is about £2,000 a week, and this will continue while the present garrison remains there.