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Written Answers

Volume 526: debated on Monday 5 April 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 5th April, 1954

Pensions And National Insurance

Old-Age Pensioners


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether his correspondence with Mr. Melling, Secretary of the National Federation of Old-Age Pensioners' Associations, is now complete; what conclusions he has reached about this problem; and what action he proposes to take.

As regards the first two parts of the Question, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given on 29th March to the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds). As regards the rest, I cannot add anything to what I said in the debate on 19th March.

Retirement Pensions


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will state the basis on which he calculates that a basic retirement pension rate of £2 10s. per week would cost £570 million.

On the assumption that everyone over minimum pension age received an unconditional pension of £2 10s. a week, the immediate cost would be about £900 million a year, which is £570 million more than the anticipated cost of retirement pensions this year.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what estimate he has made of the number of persons registered as being of pensionable age but who are not in receipt of a retirement pension.

National Insurance Fund (Securities)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what investments were transferred to the National Insurance Reserve Fund which, upon revaluation in the year 1952–53, showed a net loss of £14,721,327; when these securities were purchased and at what prices; and what is the present value of the fund's investments which on 31st March, 1953, stood at £959,440,434 and then showed a loss of approximately £109 million.

The following investments were transferred from the National Insurance Fund to the National Insurance (Reserve) Fund in 1952–53, but it is not the practice to disclose details of the transactions of the National Debt Commissioners.

SecurityNominal Value
3 per cent. Savings Bonds, 1955–6543,012,338142
2½ per cent. Savings Bonds, 1964–67112,287,688166
3 per cent. Funding Stock, 1959–6967,971,476130
3 per cent. Funding Stock, 1966–6810,000,00000
British Gas 31 per cent. Guaranteed Stock, 1969– 7110,000,00000
British Electricity 3½ per cent. Guaranteed Stock, 1976–793,150,00000
3½ per cent. Treasury Stock, 1977–801,000,00000
British Iron and Steel 3½ per cent. Guaranteed Stock, 1979–81730,33335
British Electricity 4½ per cent. Guaranteed Stock, 1974–7925,000,00000
2½ per cent. Funding Stock, 1956–6148,392,391128
Particulars of the securities of the two Funds at 31st March, 1954, and their market value at that date will be published with the Accounts of the Funds for the Financial year 1953–54 and I must ask my hon. Friend to wait the publication of those accounts.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance when he purchased £211,266,262 2½ per cent. Treasury Stock 1975 for £162,028,254 which, on 31st March, 1953, was worth only £127,023,840 and therefore showed a loss of over £35 million; what is its value today; and why he purchased so much irredeemable stock.

The whole of the Reserve Fund holding of 2½ per cent. Treasury Stock, 1975, was acquired before March, 1950.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why, in the year 1952–53, he exchanged short-term holdings for longer dated securities involving a loss to the National Insurance Fund of £4,284,328; what stocks were sold and bought and on what dates; and why it was not foreseen earlier that different securities would be required in order to provide a suitable distribution of maturities for the Insurance Fund.

It has never been the practice to disclose details of the transactions of the National Debt Commissioners. But opportunities of buying suitable stocks are taken as they occur to

CommodityPurchases (a)Arrivals
Tons '000Value (f.o.b.) £'000Tons '000
Fruit and Canned Fish (b)26926,950268
Meat and Bacon (c)1,151202,6871,140
Cereals, Starch and Animal Feeding Stuffs5,021139,6045,450
Sugar and Glucose2,78293,1272,415
Milk Products, Eggs and Oils and Fats2,226257,9242,141
(a) Exclude purchases shipped direct for overseas consumption.
(b) Including canned fruit, dried fruit, edible nuts and fruit juices
(c) Including canned meat.

Food Supplies (Nutrient Value)


asked the Minister of Food the nutrient equivalent of food supplies per head per day moving into civilian consumption in the United Kingdom during 1953.

About 84 grams of protein including 44·3 grams of animal protein; 128 grams of fat; 385 grams of carbohydrate; and 3030 calories.

For the domestic ration and caterers342·2374·9349·4
For trade users, Service supplies, ships' stores and exports86·564·864·4
Cooking Fats (including lard):
For the domestic ration and caterers171·2168·2161·7
For trade users, Service supplies, ships' stores and exports195·283·066·1

provide for maturities at dates appropriate to the respective funds in pursuance of the general policy of adjusting the holdings in those funds.

Ministry Of Food

Overseas Purchases


asked the Minister of Food if he will publish a statement showing the quantity and value of foodstuffs bought in bulk from overseas by his Department during 1953, together with a statement of the deliveries.

Margarine And Cooking Fats


asked the Minister of Food the total consumption of margarine and cooking fats, respectively, in each of the years 1951, 1952 and 1953, respectively.

Fuel Consumption (Steel Industry)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what tonnage of coal and oil, respectively, was used in the steel industry, apart from the coke ovens, in the years 1951 to 1953, respectively.

Excluding iron foundries and coke ovens, the figures are as follows:

Thousands Tons

Filton Airfield (Use)


asked the Minister of Supply what plans he has for the development of the Filton airport in view of the

Date of appointmentSubjectProbable date of Report(s)
15th May, 1946Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors.Three reports have been issued; a further report will be issued in due course.
2nd January, 1951Royal Commission on Taxation of Profits and Income.Cannot yet be forecast.
8th September, 1951Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce.
25th July, 1952Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs.
1st January, 1953Royal Commission on Land and Population in East Africa.The Commission hopes to submit its Report by Autumn, 1954.
16th November, 1953Royal Commission on the Civil Service.These Commissions have only recently been appointed and it is not practicable to forecast the probable date of their Reports.
20th February, 1954Royal Commission on the Law relating to Mental Illness and Deficiency.

Mutual Aid Programme


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give a list of the Government Departments dealing with the Mutual Aid Programme and also the various aspects of the Mutual Aid Programme for which these Departments are responsible; and whether he will also state the administrative functions of the British Council and the Central Office of Information in connection with this programme.

growing need for a large aerodrome in the west capable of taking modern airline services.

Filton airfield is used by the Bristol Aeroplane Company for testing aircraft made by them and is fully adequate for that purpose. It is not intended for use as a civil airport.

Royal Commissions

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will give a list of the Royal Commissions and committees of inquiry sitting at present; the subjects under study; and an indication when the report or reports of each body may be expected,

The following are details of the temporary Royal Commissions now sitting: the list does not include permanent Commissions. Similar information about committees of inquiry is not readily available.

The following is a list of the Government Departments dealing with the Mutual Aid Programme and of the matters for which they are responsible:

Treasury: Economic and financial policy questions, accounting arrangements, interdepartmental co-ordination.
Foreign Office: Questions of foreign policy and international law.
Ministry of Defence, Service Departments, Ministry of Supply: Military aid, offshore procurement contracts, aid for aircraft production.
Colonial Office: Aid for Colonies.
Board of Trade: Commercial implications of commodity aid, general responsibility for technical assistance and conditional aid.
Ministry of Materials, Ministry of Food: Commodity aid.
Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation: Shipping arrangements for commodities and other aid goods.
British Council: Arrangements for foreign visitors in connection with some technical assistance missions.
Central Office of Information: Central library of productivity films and other technical assistance matters.

National Finance

Cinemas (Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the cost to the Exchequer in a full year of removing entertainments tax from all cinema seats priced at 1s. 3d. or less.

The cost is conjectural, depending on the extent to which higher prices were reduced to take advantage of the exemption of the 1s. 3d. cinema seat; but it would probably be over £20 million a year.

Metal Draining Boards (Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why clip-on metal draining boards are subject to Purchase Tax while a sink unit comprising a metal sink and draining board is not; and what action he proposes to remedy this anomaly.

For some years there has been an exception in favour of fixtures such as sink units, from the general charge on domestic hardware; and I see no need to interfere with this.

Rn Personnel, Far East (Currency)

69 and 70.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty (1) the terms of the agreement under which Australia became responsible for the management of sterling exchange finance available to the Royal Navy in Japanese and Korean waters;(2) for what reason, and under what circumstances, sterling exchange finance available to the Royal Navy in Japanese and Korean waters has been transferred from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation to the Shinwa Bank of Japan.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) on 29th March, 1954.


Canal Bridges


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will give a general direction to the Transport Commission with a view to the replacement of all unsafe bridges over their canals with modem steel ones.

I do not think this problem can be properly or effectively dealt with by means of any such general direction.

Classified Roads, Crofting Counties (Grants)

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the total amount of grant for roads in each crofting county this year, excluding causeways and piers, but including all special grants.

The Road Fund grants made in 1953–54 for improvement and maintenance of classified roads in these counties are:

Ross and Cromarty100,500
These figures represent the amount of grant committed; payments may be spread over several years.

Civil Aviation (Skyways Limited)


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation on what date he approved the agreement made between the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Skyways Limited under which the Corporation was to take a holding in the latter Company; on what date he revised his decision; and why the change was made.

I informed the B.O.A.C. on 19th March that I was prepared to approve the agreement. I confirmed this to the Chairman on 22nd March. Later that day I asked him to defer signature of the agreement. On 26th March, when it had become clear to me that the proposed agreement would discriminate against other independent operators, I told the Chairman that I could not agree to it.

Civil Defence (Hydrogen Bomb)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement as soon as practicable concerning Civil Defence policy in the light of the latest knowledge of the hydrogen bomb.

Yes: but I may not be in a position to make such a statement for some time.

Trade And Commerce

Match Industry (Revised Swedish Agreement)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now make a further statement about the action which he proposes to take on the Report of the Monopolies Commission on the Match Industry.

Yes. The British Match Corporation have undertaken to carry out all the recommendations of the Commission which the Government have accepted. In addition, the Corporation and the Swedish Match Company have been in negotiation with a view to the conclusion of a revised Agreement which would eliminate those features of the earlier Agreements which the Government considered objectionable. These negotiations have been concluded and a new Agreement has just been signed.In this new Agreement the arrangements about quotas and compensation have been eliminated and there is no provision for sharing the United Kingdom market between the British Match Corporation and the Swedish company in a predetermined proportion. There is no restriction on the expansion of United Kingdom manufacturing capacity or of sales of matches either by the British Match Corporation or by the Swedish company. The United Kingdom's interests overseas which were secured by the earlier agreement have been preserved.I am arranging for copies of the new Agreement to be available in the Vote Office. In the light of the outcome of the negotiations I do not propose to take any further action at present, but I shall, of course, watch how the new arrangements work in practice.

Cotton Manufactures (Imports From Hong Kong)

asked the President of the Board of Trade to give statistics of cotton manufactures imported into this country from Hong Kong during each of the past six months; and how these imports compare with those for similar periods in 1951.

The information is as follows:

*Including clothing.

British Army

Military College Of Science, Shrivenham (Staff)

asked the Secretary of State for War the total number of the instructional staff, Service and civilian, at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham; and what is the total number of students.

Director Of Army Education (Responsibilities)

asked the Secretary of State for War which of the military schools and colleges for which he is responsible are under the authority of the Director of Army Education and which are not.

The Director of Army Education is primarily responsible for the Army School of Education and Depot R.A.E.C., the Education Centres at home and overseas and the children's schools overseas. He has also certain special responsibilities for the educational policy at the Duke of York's Royal Military School, the Queen Victoria School and the various schools for Army Boys. He is not responsible for any of the military training establishments.

Royal Commission On Divorce

asked the Attorney-General when it is anticipated that he. Royal Commission on Divorce will report.

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) on 10th November, 1953.

Hydrogen Bomb (Radio-Activity)

asked the Minister of Works whether he will make inquiries as to the effect of the recent explosion of an hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, particularly with reference to its effect on the production of radio-activity in fish; the intensity of the contamination and the survival rate of the fish; and what effect the consumption of fish rendered radioactive would have on human beings.

asked the Minister of Works if he will set up a scientific committee to study the effects of atomic explosions on the run of world salmon and other fishes; and to what distances radio-active sea water can be carried in the Pacific and other ocean currents.

Work on the effects of radio-activity on fish is carried on by the Atomic Energy Establishments, the Agricultural Research Council and the Fisheries Research Laboratory; and there is no need for any special inquiry. It is known that a large part of the radioactivity produced in explosions decays very rapidly, and the radio-activity is also diluted progressively in the sea as the distance from the point of explosion increases. Possible serious effects on fish would occur only for a very few miles round the point of explosion. To accumulate a significant quantity of radio-activity in his body a human being would have to eat daily for many months or even for years large meals of fish all of which had been taken within a few miles and a few days of the explosion.

Raf Reserve Aircrew (Training)


asked the Undersecretary of State for Air to what extent the difficulty of recruiting suitable aircrew is due to the declining facilities for private flying; and, in view of the fact that Her Majesty's Government's policy of closing Volunteer Reserve schools in this country is leading to a further restriction of flying facilities and the closing of aerodromes, he will now review the Volunteer Reserve training policy.

The Air Council is satisfied that the new policy for training Reserve aircrew at Service units is the right one in present circumstances. I have no evidence that our difficulty in recruiting enough aircrew of the right quality is the result of declining facilities for private flying.

Television Licence Revenue

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what revenue he estimates would be forthcoming for television from a £4 licence if five million licences were sold.

National Service Men (Cost)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence the average annual cost of training, maintaining, and paying a National Service man at the latest date for which figures are available.

The average annual cost of maintaining and paying a National Service man is roughly £360. Since a large part of the training of National Service men is done at units and cannot be separately costed, it is not practicable to give an average figure for the cost of training.