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Written Answers

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 6 April 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 6th April, 1954

British Army (Personal Cases)


asked the Secretary of State for War what inquiries he has made into the case of 22805669 Private E. J. Whiten, B Company, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who, after an absence of information for two months, was reported to be in a hospital in Japan on 5th January, 1954, and about whom no further information could be obtained by his parents until 22nd January, 1954, when a telegram was received stating that he was in Netley Hospital, near Southampton, and who is now reported to be suffering from torsion dystonia.

Reports were called for from the military authorities in Japan and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. Private Whiten was admitted to hospital in Japan on 21st December last year and his parents were informed. While there, however, he was neither seriously nor dangerously ill. On 13th January he was flown home and his parents were told as soon as he arrived. As the hon. Members knows, since that time all possible help and information have been given to his parents who have visited him several times.


asked the Secretary of State for War, when the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South, may expect a reply to her letter of 26th February about the Call-up of Mr. J. Tomes.

Trade And Commerce

North-Eastern Development Area


asked the President of the Board of Trade what action is being taken under Section 5 of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, in the North-Eastern Development Area.

No grants under this Section have been made since January, 1952. A small amount of residual work remains to be done under grants approved before that date.

Canned Meat Imports


asked the President of the Board of Trade the amount of canned meat imported in each of the years, 1951, 1952 and 1953.

Imports of meat in airtight containers of all kinds during 1951, 1952 and 1953, amounted to 227,000 tons, 192,000 tons and 167,000 tons, respectively.

Citrus Fruit (Thiourea)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the harmful effect of thiourea on citrus fruits, he will prohibit the importation of these fruits when treated with this particular preservative.

I am informed that the import of citrus fruits containing thiourea is already prohibited under the Preservatives in Food Regulations and anyone doing so is liable to be prosecuted.

Iron And Steel Producers (Monopolies Commission)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, since the coming into operation of the Iron and Steel Act, 1953, he has referred any activity of iron and steel producers to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission for investigation.

National Finance

Surtax Rate


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the approximate annual cost of reducing by a half the rate of Surtax on the first £2,000 of earned income assessed to Surtax.

Earned Income


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the net income of a married man with two children in 1935who received a gross income of £5,000 a year; what it would be today; and what it would amount to today allowing for the depreciation in the value of the £ between 1935 and today.

A gross earned income of £5,000, in the case of a married man with two children, produced a net income, after deduction of tax, of £3,687 in 1935–36 and £2,689 in 1953–54. The latter amount is equivalent in purchasing power to about £1,090 in 1935–36.

£ Sterling (Purchasing Power)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of the fact that the internal purchasing power of the £ fell from 20s. to 19s. 2d. since October, 1951, what were the comparable figures for the previous two periods of two-and-a-half years; and how much of the recent fall is due to the increased cost of coal, gas, electricity, and transport charges.

From April, 1949, to October, 1951, the internal purchasing power of the £ on the basis used in the calculation referred to by my hon. Friend is estimated to have fallen from 20s. to 16s. 11d., or by about 15 per cent. An exactly comparable estimate for the period October, 1946, to April, 1949, cannot be made, because the Interim Index of Retail Prices was not available before June, 1947. But, taking 20s. as the average for the year 1946, the purchasing power of the £ at April, 1949, was about 17s. 4d— a fall of about 13½ per cent.Of the estimated fall from 20s. to 19s. 2d. between October, 1951, and February, 1954—a fall of about 4 per cent.— about 2d. can be attributed to increases in the cost of fuel and light and in fares.

Purchase Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why clip-on metal draining boards are subject to Purchase Tax while draining boards included in metal sink units are exempt.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Llewellyn).

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that certain Birmingham firms, after submitting prototypes of projected lines to the local Purchase Tax centre, and receiving written tax free rulings, have incurred large expenditures on tools and sales promotion, only to receive from the same Purchase Tax centre, many months later, rulings of 50 per cent. tax on the same articles; and if he will take steps to see that such rulings are not lightly and in-advisedly made so that firms can safe-guard themselves against losses which arise thereby.

I regret that in one case a wrong opinion was expressed on the liability of an ashtray. This has since been corrected. The hon. Member will no doubt be aware of the difficulty which arises in borderline cases, and it is a tribute to the skill and care with which these complicated matters are handled that trouble of this sort arises so rarely.

Cinema Attendances

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for each quarter of the financial year 1953–54, the figure of cinema attendances, expressed as a percentage of the corresponding quarters in the financial years 1952–53 and 1951–52, respectively.

The figures, which relate to dutiable admissions only, are as follow:

Financial Year QuartersEstimated dutiable attendances in 1953–54 as a percentage of:
First Quarter9398
Second Quarter9395
Third Quarter97100
Fourth Quarter (January and February only)8796

Shillings, Accrington (Shortage)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the shortage of shillings in Accrington, due to the introduction of shilling-in-the-slot meters; and what he will do to help in this matter.

I have had no specific complaint about shortages in Accrington. As I pointed out in my reply on 18th February to the hon. Members for The Wrekin (Mr. I. O. Thomas) and Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman), distribution of coins to particular areas is effected through the branches of the banks concerned, which apply to the Mint for supplies through their head offices.

Company Receipts (Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the £700 million other receipts received by companies in 1953 as indicated in table 20 of the Economic Survey, 1954, represents capital transfers; why tax payments are estimated only at £950 million on a total income of £3,130 million; and what items are included in the later figure that are not subject to taxation.

Capital transfers account for about £25 million out of the £700 million "other receipts" in the table. The tax payments shown do not include Income Tax paid on interest and dividends, since this is regarded as falling on the shareholders, even though in practice it is normally deducted by companies at source. To arrive, therefore, at an appropriate figure of company income in 1953 for comparison with the figure of tax payments it is necessary to deduct interest and dividend payments of £951 million from the total of £3,130 million.Statutory depreciation allowances of £449 million should also be deducted, together with the £25 million of capital receipts. The resulting figure of £1,705 million represents the undistributed income of companies in 1953, after provision for depreciation; tax payments on this income are put at £950 million or 56 per cent.

Post-War Credits

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the yearly figures of the number and value of repayment of post-war credits and the value of those now remaining.

On the first part of this Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the 96th Report of the Board of Inland Revenue (Cmd. 9030), Tables 58 and 59. As to the second part, I would refer him to the answer given to the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) on 1st April.

Civil Servants, North Wales (Reposting)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps are being taken to ensure that established officers now serving with the Ministry of Food in the North Wales area will be absorbed into other Government Departments in their present localities when the Ministry of Food is discontinued.

Established civil servants are, of course, liable to be called on to serve in any part of the country. But I recognise that the large reductions being effected in the staff of the Ministry of Food give rise to difficult personal problems for many of the staff concerned. Arrangements for reposting of established staff to other Government Departments are, therefore, being made on the basis that local vacancies in these Departments are being allotted to those of the Ministry of Food established staff who have the strongest claims to local postings on hardship grounds. But as North Wales is an area containing relatively few Government establishments I am afraid it will not be possible to find sufficient of such vacancies to provide for all who wish to remain there. We are, however, doing our best to help the hardest cases.

Local Government

Water Supplies, Reepham And Hill


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will now make a further statement on the progress of the plans to provide piped water and main drainage for the area of Reepham, in the county of Norfolk.

The water supply scheme will be investigated when the council have sent my right hon. Friend some information for which he has asked. He will give further consideration to the sewerage proposals when he has his inspector's report on the water supply scheme.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he anticipates the parish of Hill, in Gloucestershire, will be provided with a piped water supply.

A proposal for a piped water supply for Hill reached me yesterday and will be considered without delay.

Private Streets, Wales (Making Up)

78 and 79.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) how many private roads in Wales were not made up at the commencement of the last war; how many of these have now been made up; and how many he estimates will be made up during the next year.(2) what proportion of pre-war private roads in Wales which were unmade before the last war have now been made up; and how this compares with the proportion in England.

Local authorities in Wales have been authorised since the last war to make up some 300 private streets. The corresponding number for England is 4,200. I regret that the rest of the information asked for is not available.My right hon. Friend cannot forecast how many will be made up next year, but they are being and will be authorised as freely as possible.

Mayor Of Hackney (Pensions Campaign)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is aware of the campaign conducted by the Mayor of Hackney for increased retirement pensions, including the circulation of numbers of forms, the sending of reply paid postcards and correspondence with Members of Parliament and local authorities; and, in view of the use of local authority funds for a purpose which is ultra vires, whether he will order an extraordinary audit to be made.

My right hon. Friend is aware of this matter, but he does not think that he would be justified in ordering an extraordinary audit.


Council Meeting, Wandsworth (Parliamentary Question)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how a copy of a non-Oral reply to a Question addressed to him concerning the raising of rents of requisitioned premises in Wandsworth was able to be read in the public meeting of the borough council the night before it appeared in HANSARD; and if he will explain how this leak from his Department occurred.

My right hon. Friend has already written to the hon. Member explaining how this occurred and expressing his regret. His original Question was down for Oral answer, but was not reached in Question time. This possibility was not foreseen when the terms of the reply were settled after consultation with officers of the Wandsworth Borough Council, following the usual practice in matters affecting a particular authority.

Ex-Service Men


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether, in view of the fact that both Portsmouth City Council and Stretford Borough Council have refused to consider the application for a house of Mr. L. H. Benians, until lately a regimental sergeant major with 28 years' service, in the light of circular 8–52, he will again advise local authorities to consider such applications on the basis of relative housing need and not of a rigid residential qualification.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) on 2nd February last.



asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government at what rate houses are now being erected in Harlow new town; its present population of men, women and children, respectively; whether the establishment of industrial undertakings is keeping pace with this expansion; and, approximately how many former inhabitants of the borough of Leyton have found accommodation there in comparison with those from other boroughs.

The current rate of house building is approximately 2,000 a year, and so far industrial provision is in step with this. Separate figures are not available for men, women and children resident in the new town, but the latest available figures show that 169 families have moved from Leyton.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the total number of houses which are rent-controlled, owner-occupied, owned by local authorities and outwith rent control, respectively, given separately for England and Wales.

Accurate information is not available, but the approximate figures are 6½ million rent-controlled, 3½ million owner-occupied, 2¼ million owned by local authorities and 100,000 outside rent control respectively.

Ministry Of Works



asked the Minister of Works how many non-industrial established civil servants, temporary civil servants, and non-industrial staff, were employed in or by Eastern Regional Office of his Department at the end of 1951 and at the latest date for which figures are available.

At the end of 1951 the total number of non-industrial staff employed at the Eastern Region of my Department was 505 of whom 218 were established and 287 temporary.The corresponding figures for 1st March, 1954, are: total, 430; established, 271; temporary, 159.


asked the Minister of Works how many fuel supply officers are employed by his Department; and how many of them are qualified to carry out fuel efficiency tests of a scientific character.

Twenty-seven fuel officers are at present employed by the Department. They are fuel technologists who are qualified to advise on the fuel used for the many varieties of heating plant for which the Department is responsible. Where special tests are required they consult the Fuel Efficiency Branch of the Ministry of Fuel and Power. Scientific research into fuel efficiency is the responsibility of the Fuel Research Station of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Prefabricated Houses (Tenders)


asked the Minister of Works how many applications he has received for purchase of temporary prefabricated houses; how many applicants have asked since 28th February for tender forms; how many of such applicants actually submitted tenders; how many such tenders have been accepted; and how many of such tenders were higher than bids from contractors.

3,110 inquiries about the purchase of temporary houses have been received since 28th February and all inquirers have been informed of the arrangements for tendering. So far, six offers have been received from these inquirers, of which one higher than the bids received from contractors has been accepted.

Shipbuilding Industry (Testing Tank)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what progress has been made regarding a testing tank for the shipbuilding industry; and if he will make a statement.

Detailed designs of the tank and its equipment, which are elaborate because of the need for a high degree of accuracy, are now almost complete. Construction at Feltham is expected to start in October and it is hoped to complete the work in 1958.


Vacancies (Notification)


asked the Minister of Labour on how many occasions during the last six months the machinery of the Notification of Vacancies Order, 1952, was used.

Apart from the exceptions provided for in the Order, it is operative every time a vacancy is filled either by a placing by the Ministry of Labour or by an engagement made with the approval of the Ministry. In the last six months approximately 1,300,000 vacancies for adults were filled through placings by the local offices of the Ministry, and, in addition, about 475,000 vacancies were filled by persons nominated by the employers and approved by the Ministry.

Workers (Fatal Accidents)


asked the Minister of Labour the numbers of workers employed during each of the years 1949 to 1952 in coal mining, agriculture, transport and the merchant marine; and how many fatal accidents, expressed as a percentage

IndustryOrkney IslandsShetland IslandsCounties of Caithness, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Inverness and Argyll*
Agriculture and horticulture430130170306,660670
Non-Ferrous metals, smelting, rolling. etc1,340220
Woollen and worsted107030670380
Civil engineering contracting130580106,880150
Distributive trades3702704503103,1903,600
Professional services1203301103801,9604,240
Catering, hotels, etc3080301301,4203,920
All other industries and services1,4001301,42057019,2206,790
Total all industries and services2,8409503,6701,47050,13020,390
*Owing to the fact that the boundaries of employment exchange areas do not coincide with county boundaries it is not possible to provide separate figures for each of these counties.

Glove Workers, Leicester


asked the Minister of Labour the number of knitted woollen glove workers in the Leicester area who were unemployed or on short time on 31st March, 1954, and on the 31st December, 1953, respectively.

Unemployment of knitted glove workers is not recorded separately in the statistical returns, but is included in the figures for the hosiery industry. It appears, however, that on

of those numbers, took place in the respective years.

I am having the figures extracted and will write to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Highland Counties

asked the Minister of Labour the main occupations of the population in the seven Highland counties, the approximate number in each and especially the number employed in the building trade.

The available statistics relate to employees only (i.e., they exclude employers and workers on their own account) and they have been analysed on the basis of "industry" but not of "occupation." The following table gives the latest available figures:neither of the two dates mentioned were there any knitted glove workers included in the hosiery workers registered as unemployed or on short time.

Tinplate And Steel Industries, West Wales

asked the Minister of Labour how many workers are likely to become redundant when the old tin-plate mills in West Wales are closed down; how many it is estimated will be able to get employment in the new plants at Margam, Trostie and Velindre; and how many will need other employment.

Future estimates are necessarily tentative, but it is expected that when the present modernisation schemes in west South Wales are completed, some 10,000 workers in the hand tinplate and steel sheet mills, and the associated steel bar mills will become redundant. Of this total, it is expected that the new plants when all are in full operation will absorb about 3,500 workers, and the remaining 6,500 will need to be placed in other employment.

asked the Minister of Labour how many Italian workers are employed in the steel and tinplate industry in West Wales; and whether, when the old mills are closed, he proposes to return these people to Italy or offer them other employment in this country.

Approximately 500. The contracts provide for repatriation when the employment is terminated on redundancy. Italians not wishing to return home may be considered for other important work for which British subjects are not available.

Dental Technicians

asked the Minister of Labour the number of dental technicians now employed as compared with three years ago.

National Service

University Students (Call-Up)


asked the Minister of Labour if he will take steps to expedite the procedure of call-up for National Service, and in particular the call for medical examination of university students; and if he is aware that the delays at present experienced in over six months in some cases for the Royal Air Force prejudice the future careers of post-graduate studies of these students.

We do our best to avoid delay in these cases, particularly when the graduate proposes to resume studies after his National Service. Students from all universities become available at about the same time. Many of them are potential officers and if their posting is to be done to the best advantage, it must be spread over a certain time. Some delay is, therefore, inevitable in certain cases, but I will certainly see whether, with the help of the R.A.F., we cannot make any further improvement.



asked the Minister of Labour whether he will appoint a committee to investigate the working of the National Service Act, with particular reference to medical examination, selection and deferment, and to examine the circumstances under which the conditions of the Act can be evaded.

No. I would remind my hon. Friend that the arrangements for the registration, medical examination, deferment and call-up of men under the National Service Acts were examined by the Select Committee on Estimates in the 1952–53 Session; its Report was presented to the House in March, 1953.With regard to evasion, my right hon. and learned Friend's reply to my hon. Friend on 25th March indicated that he has the possibility of remedial measures in mind.

asked the Minister of Labour if he can give an estimate of the number of young men who evade call-up by taking up residence in the Channel Islands.

No precise figure is available, but the number is certainly insignificant.

Cost Of Living, Scotland (Rents And Rates)


asked the Minister of Labour whether the figures for rent and rates appearing in the cost-of-living index include statistics from Scotland; and whether he will indicate the percentage increase in rent and rates for England and Wales, and Scotland, separately.

The figures for rent and rates in the Index of Retail Prices include statistics collected from various towns in Scotland, but I regret that I cannot undertake calculations for the purpose of giving separate figures for Scotland. The Index of Retail Prices is designed to measure the average changes in the level of prices for the United Kingdom as a whole and is not suitable for comparing the movement of prices in different parts of the United Knigdom.

Colonial Territories (Imprisoned Service Men)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the usual practice, where members of Her Majesty's Services, usually resident in the British Isles, are imprisoned for civil crimes in Colonial Territories such as Hong Kong; in what circumstances they are detained in prisons in the area; and in what circumstances they are sent to this country.

They are normally detained in prisons in the area only when the sentences imposed are too short to warrant transfer to the United Kingdom under the Colonial Prisoners Removal Act, 1884.The practice varies in different Colonies; but it is usual, if a long sentence is imposed or special circumstances make it inadvisable for a prisoner to be detained locally, to transfer him to the United Kingdom under the Act.

Helicopters, Malaya And Korea

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air to what extent helicopters have been used by the Army in active operations in Korea or Malaya.

All the helicopters in action in Malaya are under the operational control of the Royal Air Force. They are used, in accordance with Army requirements, for setting down jungle patrols in areas difficult of access, casualty evacuation, communications, reconnaissance and leaflet dropping.No Royal Air Force aircraft have been employed on operations in Korea, apart from a squadron of flying boats, and two flights of Austers used for air observation.

Graduate Teachers (Honours)

asked the Minister of Education, with regard to the recent Report on Graduate Teachers of Mathematics and Science, Table II of which shows that, of graduates in subjects other than mathematics and science leaving professional training in 1938, 74·1 per cent, had 1st or 2nd class honours, whereas in 1953 only 62·1 per cent, had 1st or 2nd class honours, whether she will give the corresponding percentages for each of the seven years preceding 1953 and for each of the seven years preceding 1938.

Table II of the Report referred to was compiled after getting a special return from the University Departments of Education. Comparable figures for other years are not available.

Welfare Foods (Distribution)

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements will be made for the local distribution of welfare foods, other than liquid milk, when the local offices of his Department are closed later in the year.

My right hon. Friends have invited the local health authorities to take over responsibility for these arrangements as part of their duty under the National Health Service Acts to provide for the care of expectant and nursing mothers and young children. The associations of authorities covering England and Wales have already agreed to do so.

Ministry Of Health

Water Supplies (Fluoridation)

asked the Minister of Health how many local authorities he has invited to co-operate in a study of the fluoridation of water supplies; if he will ask them to make their preliminary investigations in accordance with those suggested by the British mission which visited the United States of America; and if he will give the names of the local authorities who have received the invitation.

No formal invitation has yet been sent to any local authority in England and Wales. It is contemplated that preliminary investigations will be carried out as recommended by the mission.

Dental Technicians

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the loss to the craft of numbers of highly skilled dental technicians; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that this trend will not destroy the possibility of a comprehensive dental service.

I am not aware of any loss of dental technicians likely to lead to a serious difficulty in the future.

Family Allowances (Payments)

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance in how many cases in the past 12 months applicants for payment of children's allowances have had their applications refused on the grounds that the allowances were not claimed within the stipulated six months; the total amount which has thereby been forfeited; and, in view of the hardship suffered by those who have failed to make such claims as a result of illness or ill health, whether he will take steps to amend Section 7 of the Family Allowances Act, 1945, so as to give him a discretionary power in such cases.

I assume that my hon. Friend refers to cases where the right to payments by way of family allowances is extinguished under Section 7 of the Family Allowances Act because orders are not cashed within six months. Figures as to the number of such cases in the last 12 months or the total amount of money involved are not available. My right hon. Friend sees no reason to alter this rule as orders can be cashed by the husband or someone else on the wife's behalf and there should, therefore, be no question of hardship in cases of illness.


Roads, Yell (Making Up)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many miles of road in Yell he estimates can be made up with his recently announced grant.

The work proposed is the realignment of three short sections, totalling 520 linear yards, on route A968.

Shopping Facilities, East Kilbride

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the long distances which mothers with young children must walk in the Murray and Westwood areas of East Kilbride to do their shopping and at what stage in the development of the former areas he will be satisfied that the population figures merit the building of local shops by the corporation.

The Development Corporation have already built five shops in the Murray area, and two at Westwood, and propose to provide within the next 12 months 13 more in the Murray area, and six more in the Westwood area.

Local Authority Housing Loans (Interest)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the total amount of money paid by local authorities in Scotland as interest on housing loans in the years 1923 to 1953, inclusive.

The amounts for the years 1951–52 and 1952–53 are estimated at £7,511,000 and £9,392,000 respectively. I regret that the figures for earlier years are not available.

Ministry Of Supply

Transport Aircraft (Conversion Cost)

asked the Minister of Supply the basic cost of the four military transport aircraft converted for transport of special persons.

asked the Minister of Supply what were the special fittings installed in four military transport aircraft that warranted a cost of £149,000, in addition to the basic cost.

Orders which specified the fittings required were placed between May, 1950, and January, 1951, for four military transport aircraft to be converted for the carrying of special pasengers. The aircraft were completed between September, 1951, and April, 1952.It is contrary to the normal practice to give prices of individual contracts, but in view of the circumstances of this case I am prepared to make an exception. The basic cost of each of the aircraft in question was approximately £100,000, unconverted.The special fittings not included in the standard military transport aircraft, which were installed in these aircraft were:

Crew's rest room with two bunks and two seats; front passenger cabin with eight adjustable seats for staff; centre cabin with conference, dining and sleeping accommodation; separate toilets for V.I.Ps., staff and crew; air conditioning plant and fans; cupoards, wardrobes, luggage racks; oxygen supply; strip lighting; sound proofing throughout; hydraulically-operated door-cum-ladder with hand rails; refrigerator, hot cupboard and full kitchen equipment, to cater for six crew and 18 passengers; special emergency equipment; special aft-facing seats; special windows so that all seats had good view and passengers could read by daylight.

Iron And Steel Board (Notices)

asked the Minister of Supply in respect of what class of products notices have been served by the Iron and Steel Board as provided under Section 9 (2) of the Iron and Steel Act, 1953.