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Written Answers

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 7th April, 1954

Tea And Coffee (Prices)

20.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that further increases in prices of tea and coffee are announced for an early date; and if he will take steps to impose a ceiling price on these commodities.

No general price increases have been announced, but retail prices must reflect increasing world procurement costs. In any case, competition is likely to be much more effective in holding prices than any system of price controls, with its inevitable accompaniment of rationing and restriction.

East Africa

Insecticide Spraying (Cost)

35

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the approximate expenditure which has been incurred on the experiments and work carried out under the auspices of the Colonial Research Council since 1948 on the spraying of insecticides from the air in East Africa; whether he is aware that no up to date or full information has been published about this important scientific work; and whether arrangements will now be made to rectify this omission.

Approximately £210,000 has been spent directly on the hire of aircraft and the purchase of insecticides for this work; and the cost of the unit engaged in it is approximately £192,000 to date. It is difficult to assess how much of the latter amount can be attributed to the air spraying experiments since these form only a part of the unit's researches.The answer to the second and last parts of the Question is that four scientific papers have been published and that another five will appear this year.

Trial, Kenya (Transcript)

52.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether be will arrange for a transcript of the trial of Mr. Hayward in Kenya to be placed in the Library.

Requests to Colonial Governments to supply transcripts of pro- ceedings in their Courts should, I consider, be limited to trials of exceptional interest or importance. As this may be regarded as such a case I am asking the Kenya Government whether they can provide a fuller report than has appeared in the Press.

Electricity Board, Uganda (Composition)

55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the present composition of the Uganda Electricity Board; and for how long its members are appointed.

The present composition is:

  • Mr. C. R. Westlake (Chairman).
  • The Financial Secretary (or his representative).
  • Mr. H. R. Fraser, C.M.G., O.B.E.
  • Mr. A. N. Maini, C.B.E.
  • Mr. C. Handley Bird.
  • Mr. S. S. Tindall, C.B.E.
  • Sir Douglas Harris, K.B.E., C.S.I., C.I.E.
  • Mr. C. C. Spencer, C.M.G.
  • Mr. B. K. Mulyanti, M.B.E.
Members are appointed for such period as the Governor-in-Council directs: the term of office of the present members is three years, expiring in 1957.

British Service Men, Far East (Corporal Punishment)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent British Service men in Far East land forces, when tried by civil courts in Hong Kong and Singapore, are subject to sentences of corporal punishment; how many such sentences there have been during the past eight years; the details of the sentences imposed; and how many have been carried out.

British Service men in Far East land forces, when tried by civil courts in Hong Kong and Singapore, are subject to the local laws and are liable to be sentenced to corporal punishment for certain serious crimes for which that punishment may be awarded.The following are details of sentences during the past eight years:

NameCrimeWhen SentencedSentenceWhether Awarded
HONG KONG
Philip MendozaLarceny from the person.December, 1949.6 days' hard labour and 4 strokes of the cane.Corporal punishment rescinded on review of sentence.
Jack Lawton alias Wolf LorenzoRobbery with violence.October, 1953.Each awarded 4 years' hard labour and 24 strokes of the cane.Corporal punishment reduced on appeal to 12 strokes in each case.
Norman HardmanSentence carried out on 6th November, 1953.
SINGAPORE
R. HowlandCausing hurt in attempting to commit robbery.January, 1949.4yrs' rigorous imprisonment and12strokes with a rotan.Yes
J. J. Quinn
3yrs' rigorous imprisonment and12strokes with a rotan.
D. HatcherCausing hurt in committing robbery.December, 1952.4 yrs' rigorous imprisonment and 10 strokes with a rotan.Yes
J. H. Irvine
2 yrs' rigorous imprisonment and l0 strokes with a rotan.

British Guiana

Constitutional Commission (Report)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he expects to receive the report of the British Guiana Constitutional Commission; and whether he intends to publish it.

I have not yet had any indication of when the Commission will submit its report. I cannot say, categorically, whether publication will take place without seeing the report, but the natural assumption is that it will be published.

Situation

62.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present situation in British Guiana; and what recent threats there have been to sabotage the Colony's dyke system.

There have been demonstrations in Georgetown in connection with the arrest of Dr. Jagan on 3rd April. In the course of these demonstrations about 40 persons were arrested. The strike on sugar estates called by the P.P.P. shows signs of spreading. The Governor reports that the situation is under control and that the morale and behaviour of the police has been first class.As regards the second part of the Question, there were reports that P.P.P. agents had been instructed to open the sluice gates at high tide in Georgetown. Precautions were taken, but no attempts have so far been made.

British Honduras

People's United Party

59.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it was first suspected that the People's United Party of British Honduras was collaborating with Guatemala.

The first documentary evidence came to light in December, 1952, but was inconclusive. It was not until 26th January, 1954, that the most important document came into the possession of the British Honduras Government.

60.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what evidence he has that the People's United Party of British Honduras is a Communist party.

Inquiry Findings (Publicity)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to bring to the attention of the people of British Honduras the report and findings of Sir Reginald Sharpe on the links between the People's United Party and Guatemala.

Sir Reginald Sharpe's findings have been published in the Gazette, and copies of the full Report are being distributed. A 20-minute summary of the Report has been broadcast and will be repeated. This summary is also being printed and will be widely distributed.

Royal Navy

Discipline Act (Amendments)

63.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty when he will introduce legislation to implement the 12 recommendations of the Pilcher Committee on the Naval Discipline Act which he has accepted and which involve amendments to the Act.

I have nothing to add to the answers which I gave in reply to the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), on 17th and 24th February, and to What my hon. and gallant Friend said during the debate on the Navy Estimates.

Dockyard Workers (Earnings)

67.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how the earnings of dockyard workers employed at Portsmouth compare with their counterparts in civilian industry, taking into account any existing pension schemes.

The basic rates of pay of all Admiralty industrial employees are regulated in accordance with the principles of the fair wages resolution. When account is taken of the cash value of conditions of service, such as superannuation benefits, and of the disparity in overtime working, the average earnings at Portsmouth dockyard are not widely divergent from the published average earnings of the engineering, shipbuilding and electrical goods industries.

68.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is satisfied that adequate opportunity is offered to workers in Her Majesty's dockyards to work overtime should there be work necessitating early completion.

Yes. Overtime may be worked at the discretion of the management if the urgency of the work requires it, or if there is a temporary unbalance in the labour force.

Admiralty Staff (Increase)

69.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why the staff of his Department increased from 33,552 on 1st October. 1953, to 33,652 on 1st January, 1954; and what steps he is taking to reduce to a minimum the number of staff employed by his Department.

Of the 100 additional civilians, 31 were already in their posts as industrials but had been reclassified as non-industrials. Five were appointed to posts previously held by naval personnel. The remainder were almost entirely members of scientific, professional, technical or drawing office grades.Staff numbers are always being reviewed to keep them as low as is consistent with efficiency, and the general trend of ordinary clerical staff continues downwards. Some further expansion of total numbers is, however, inevitable if we are to maintain the pace of research and development and to reap the benefits of recent technical progress.

Ship Repair Work, Cardiff

71.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware of the concern of the members of the Cardiff No. 1 Branch of the United Society of Boilermakers at the growing redundancy of their members employed on ship repairing; and if he will accede to their request that further Admiralty repair work should be allocated to the port.

72.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the facilities available at Cardiff docks for repairing both small and large ships, he will increase the quantity of Admiralty repair work sent to this port.

The Admiralty will continue to give full consideration to the needs of Cardiff in allocating contracts for repair work in Her Majesty's ships. I must add, however, that other ship repair centres have also to be considered and the indications are that the total volume of such work may be somewhat less in the current year than in 1953.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how much Admiralty repair work has been allocated to the port of Cardiff for each of the years 1945 to 1953; and whether he is aware of the desire of employers and trade unionists in the port of Cardiff for more long-term as well as short-term repair work.

The first allocations made to Cardiff firms were in 1947–48, and in terms of ships have been:

1947–487
1948–495
1949–504
1950–514
1951–522
1952–532
1953–5410
The aggregate value of the work so placed and in hand is about £2–2½ million.As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given today to the hon. Members for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas).

Hms "Perseus" (Visit To Glasgow)

70.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty for what reason it is proposed that H.M.S. "Perseus" shall proceed from Portsmouth to Glasgow on or about 12th April, returning to Portsmouth two days later, prior to sailing to Singapore; and what is the total cost of this visit.

H.M.S. "Perseus" is to embark aircraft in Glasgow on 13th and 14th April. She will return to Portsmouth for the Easter weekend before sailing for a trooping and aircraft ferrying trip to the Far East. The cost of this arrangement will be about £900.

Post Office

Stamp Machines, Bartley Green

74.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what postage stamp machines exist in the Hartley Green area of Birmingham; how far the nearest machine is from the Bangham Pit Estate, Birmingham, 31; and what steps he is taking to improve these facilities.

One situated at Aliens Cross Post Office about 1,700 yards by road from the centre of the estate. Another machine is being fitted at Bartley Green Post Office which is a little nearer and, when the shops on the estate are built, we shall be glad to consider an application for a stamp licence from any of the shopkeepers.

Inland Parcel Post

77.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the result in terms of cost and receipt for the inland parcel post for the year 1952–53.

The estimated cost of operating the inland parcel service in 1952–53 was £14,650,000, while the revenue was £13,800,000. Thus there was a loss of £850,000 in that year.

78.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the estimated result from the proposed increase in the inland parcel post rates.

80.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what increased revenue is expected from the increased charges for the inland parcel post and the new charges for parcels to the Irish Republic.

It is estimated that the increased parcel rates which will come into force on 12th April will produce additional gross revenue in 1954–55 of about £l,·4 million, which will be partly offset by additional payments to the railways of about £550,000 in respect of inland parcels and £50,000 in respect of overseas parcels. The prospective deficit on the inland service will be reduced from about £900,000 to about £50,000.

Television (£5 Licence Fee)

79.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what he estimates would be the proceeds for television of a £5 licence assuming that 5,000,000 licences were sold.

The gross sum raised would, of course, be £25 million, but this would have to cover the Exchequer contribution, Post Office costs and Income Tax. It is impossible to give any specific sum which would be available for television, since allocations are made to the B.B.C. to enable it to meet its costs of operation, both for capital and revenue expenditure, and there is no differentiation as between sound and television services.

Telephone Service

Rural Kiosks, Wales

75.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the quotas of telephone kiosks which are to be provided in the rural areas in each county in Wales for the 12 months beginning 1st April, 1954.

As the cost of providing rural call offices varies considerably, we have decided for the future to allocate a quota of expenditure for each county. The number of call offices provided will, therefore, depend upon the sites selected and the amount of work involved. The quotas for the Welsh counties and a rough estimate of the number of kiosks they will provide are as follows:

ExpenditureEstimated number of kiosks
£
Anglesey1,8005
Brecknock2,1007
Cardigan2,3005
Carmarthen6,0008
Caernarvon2,2507
Denbigh3,0508
Flint8003
Glamorgan1,9008
Merioneth2,5008
Montgomery2,3006
Pembroke2,6505
Radnor2,7005

Derelict Poles (Removal)

76.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will arrange for the removal of the derelict telegraph poles which disfigure the countryside.

We are making steady progress with the recovery of disused overhead plant, but the provision of service for new subscribers must for some time to come remain the first charge on our labour force.

Scottish Clergymen (Shared Lines)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that ministers of religion in Scotland who have applied for telephone service have been offered a shared-line service with a secular subscriber; and whether conversations on such a line can be overheard by the other party.

Exclusive service is given to ministers of religion whenever possible. They are only called upon to share their telephones when this is the sole means of giving them service or of connecting another applicant. Conversations can only be overheard if both subscribers happen to use the line at the same time. Each has a separate number and is rung independently.

Llantrisant

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the shortage of equipment at the Llantrisant, Glamorgan, telephone exchange and, in view of the number of applications for telephones not being met if he will endeavour to have the position rectified in the near future.

It is not possible to extend the capacity of the Llantrisant exchange in the present accommodation and a new automatic exchange is to be provided when a suitable site can be obtained. Owing, however, to the heavy calls upon our resources, I regret that I can see no possibility of the new exchange being ready for some considerable time.

Newcastle-Under-Lyme

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many applications for telephone service are outstanding in the rural district of Newcastle-under-Lyme; how many have been dealt with since 1st January, 1952; and what progress he expects to make in the next 12 months.

106 telephones have been connected since 1st January, 1952, and 97 applications are outstanding, excluding 19 in the course of being met or under survey. We hope to meet about 80 of these applications this year.

Royal Air Force

Haverigg Aerodrome (Use)

81.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air the date the Haverigg, Millom, aerodrome, was reopened, and the amount expended in making the aerodrome suitable for operational work; the date this aerodrome is to be closed and the reasons for this decision; and for what purpose the buildings are going to be used after the closure.

£317,000 was spent on reconditioning this station, when it was reopened on 1st September, 1952, as a ground training establishment. Owing to changes in the rearmament programme it is no longer needed for this purpose, and we are considering whether it should be put to some other Royal Air Force use or closed down.

Courts-Martial (Committee's Recommendations)

82.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air how many of the recommendations of the Lewis Committee on Courts-Martial have not yet been implemented in the Royal Air Force, and why they have not been implemented.

Apart from the recommendations which were not accepted by the Government of the day, nine. The Select Committee on the Army Act and Air Force Act is now considering these nine recommendations.

Bomber Plane, Kenya (Loss)

83.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he will make a statement concerning the loss of a Lincoln bomber while on an operational flight in Kenya on Monday, 22nd March; what loss of life occurred; and if he will order an inquiry into the accident and the condition of this aircraft prior to its being sent to Kenya.

I regret that during the course of operations against terrorists in Kenya a Lincoln aircraft from Bomber Command crashed into a hillside on 22nd March. None of the five aircrew survived. A court of inquiry has been convened in Kenya. I can assure the hon. Member that all evidence material to the accident will be carefully examined.I should like to take the opportunity of expressing the Air Council's sympathy with the relatives of the crew in their bereavement.

Forces, Basra (Leave)

84.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he will outline the tour of duty and the leave conditions for ground and air forces under his control stationed at Basra, M.E.A.F. 20, with the cost of available transport for any member seeking to pay a visit home.

Members of the Royal Air Force normally serve at Basra for one year, during which they may be given leave in accordance with the scales, ranging from 28 to 42 days, laid down in Queen's Regulations and Air Council Instructions. They are allowed a free return journey to Ser Amadia, a leave camp in the Kurdistan Mountains, but if they wish to come back to this country they must travel, at their own expense, by one of the commercial air services operating between Basra and the United Kingdom.

University Graduates (Call-Up)

85.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he will take steps to expedite the procedure for call-up of university graduates who have volunteered for the Royal Air Force; and if he is aware that the present delays of up to six months upset the careers of these graduates.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour yesterday. I should be pleased to look into any particular case in which there has been difficulty.

North Atlantic Weather Stations (Agreement)

86.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air whether he will now make a statement on the outcome of the Meteorological Conference recently held in Paris.

A copy of the new Agreement on North Atlantic Weather Stations which was the outcome of discussions held in Paris recently between representatives of the United Kingdom, led by Dr. O. G. Sutton, C.B.E., F.R.S., the Director of the Meteorological Office, and of 12 other countries, will be laid before the House in due courseThe new scheme will come into force when the present one ends at the end of June and will run initially for two years, although there is provision for it to be extended for further periods of one year at a time. It provides for nine weather stations in the North Atlantic instead of the present 10. The station to be cut out is, however, of relatively small concern to most countries and from our point of view the new network should be almost as satisfactory as the present one.We shall be operating the same number of vessels under the new Agreement, but, in common with other European operators, we shall be working them, rather harder than we have in the past.Our contribution to the new scheme will be relatively greater than that made by other European operators and in recognition of this we shall be receiving the highest proportion of the cash contributions made by those European States which do not operate vessels. This should amount to rather more than £72,000 a year.My noble Friend regards the new arrangements as a very satisfactory outcome to the discussions which have been taking place over the past year in the International Civil Aviation Organisation. They are based on the fullest measure of good will and co-operation among the participating countries.

Air Crash, Biggin Hill

88.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air if he has considered particulars which have been sent to him concerning another incident of a crash at Biggin Hill; and, in view of the danger to life and property, if he will consider purchasing Mr. Salisbury's house and compensating him in full.

My noble Friend will reply to my hon. Friend's letter of 31st March as soon as he has considered the findings of the court of inquiry into this accident. Meanwhile, I should like to express regret for the damage and injury caused.

Driving Tests

87.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air what driving tests have to be passed by a man in the Royal Air Force before he is allowed to drive 1,000-gallon tanker vehicles; how this test differs from that laid down by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and which has to be passed in order to obtain a civilian driving licence; what Royal Air Force form is issued to men authorised to drive 1,000-gallon tanker vehicles; and what Royal Air Force vehicles may be driven by holders of Royal Air Force Form 1629.

An airman may drive a 1,000-gallon tanker inside a Royal Air Force station if he holds a suitably annotated Form 1629. This is issued after a local test of his competence to handle that particular type of vehicle.Before an airman may drive a 1,000-gallon tanker on the public highway in this country, he must hold, in addition to Form 1629, the equivalent of a civilian driving licence (Form 362), which is issued after a test similar to those held by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.

Cranwell Scholarships (Scottish Candidates)

89.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air to what reasons he attributes the fact that only six out of the 300 applicants for the first competition for Cranwell scholarships came from Scotland; and what steps he proposes to attract a higher proportion of Scottish applicants.

I fully share the hon. Member's disappointment that more candidates have not come forward from Scotland, and I wish I knew the reason. We are doing all we can to make the scheme widely known there, and I hope that the publicity given to the hon. Member's Questions will help us to get the response we are seeking. The number of applications for the second competition was, as a matter of fact, a little higher than for the first.

"Empire Windrush" Survivors (Air Transport Costs)

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air the cost per head of bringing back to this country from Gibraltar the survivors and ship's crew of the "Empire Windrush" by British European Airways Corporation and by independent air companies, respectively.

It would be contrary to well-established Government practice to disclose contract prices.

Roads

Accidents, Sunderland

90.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the number of pedestrians under 15 years of age and over 15 years of age respectively, pedal cyclists under 15 years of age and over years of age, respectively, motor cyclists, motor cycle passengers, car drivers, car passengers, and other persons, respectively, killed in Sunderland during the years 1952 and 1953, respectively; and the number of persons in the same categories seriously injured on roads in Sunderland during the years 1952 and 1953, respectively.

Following are the particulars:

PERSONS KILLED AND SERIOUSLY INJURED IN ROAD ACCIDENTS IN SUNDERLAND, 1952 AND 1953
Class of Road User19521953
KilledSeriously InjuredKilledSeriously Injured
Pedestrians—
under 15717225
over 15520731
Pedal Cyclists—
under 15314
over 1516115
Motor cyclists179
Motor cycle passengers53
Car drivers41
Car passengers46
Other passengers15210
Drivers other vehicles1
Total157213104

Traffic Conditions, Dagenham

91.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will now receive a deputation from the Dagenham Borough Council about traffic conditions in New Road, Dagenham, as was suggested last December.

As I informed the hon. Member in my letter of 18th February, we are awaiting a full report on the difficulties, and when that is received I will get in touch with the hon. Member again.

New Highway Code

92.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether, in respect of the new Highway Code, the production and design is being undertaken by a professional publicist or within his own Department.

I am glad to be able to inform the House that Mr. Fleetwood Pritchard has agreed to act as honorary consultant for this publication, and he is working in co-operation with the Central Office of Information.

Swing Bridge, Lowestoft (Delays)

93.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what representations he has received concerning delays to road traffic and congestion due to the operating of the Lowestoft swing bridge; and if he has any plans for improvement.

Representations have been received from the Lowestoft Borough Council and the Lowestoft and District Trades Council. Investigations are in hand as to a new bridge and road alignment, but any scheme is likely to be very expensive and I regret that I cannot forecast when it may be possible to carry it out.

Bridge, Frampton (Collapse)

94.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether his attention has been drawn to the collapse of a wooden bridge over the Berkeley and Sharpness canal at Frampton on30th March, 1954, while a lorry was passing over it; and whether the death of the driver in this accident will be included in the figures of road casualties for the month of March.

Duke And James Streets, Westminster

96.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will make Duke Street and James Street, Westminster, W.1, into one-way streets in view of the frequent traffic congestion in them and the fact that Orchard Street and North Audley Street have one-way working.

The one-way system in Orchard Street and North Audley Street is not precisely comparable, but we will consider my hon. Friend's suggestion and will write to him about it.

New Roundabout, East Kilbride

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the estimated cost of the two further roundabouts which it is proposed to build at East Kilbride in the next two years, and why they are needed.

Only one roundabout, costing about £6,000, is to be constructed in the next two years. It is needed for the safe regulation of a considerable amount of turning traffic near the centre of the town.

Schemes

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give an up to date list of the major uncompleted road schemes on which substantial sums have already been spent and for which the necessary land has been purchased and plans made; and in respect of which schemes steps are to be taken for their completion in the road programmes for the next three years.

I am arranging for a list to be prepared giving the information so far as this is practicable and will let the hon. Member have it as soon as it is ready.I regret that I cannot give a comprehensive list of the schemes in this category which will be approved for completion in the first three years of the road programme since they are still in course of selection. My statement to the House on 8th December included the following uncompleted schemes on which substantial sums have already been spent and on which it is hoped to resume work in the next three years: Cromwell Road Extension; Dartford—Purfleet Tunnel; Ashford Bypass; Sinderby Bridge; Borrowash Bypass.

New Conway Bridge

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when the work of erecting the new Conway Bridge will commence.

It is intended to advertise for tenders in the near future so that arrangements can be made for the work to start this year.

Transport

Aircraft (Backward-Facing Seats)

95.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will now institute an inquiry as to the relative safety and comfort to passengers of back ward-facing seats in aircraft.

No. The question of backward-facing seats is one to which a great deal of consideration has been given in the past, and it continues to be studied as new evidence comes in. My right hon. Friend does not think that a further inquiry would add to our knowledge of the subject, or reveal any reason why he should alter his policy in this matter.

Troopship "Empire Windrush"

97.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will widen the inquiry into the cause of the fire on the s.s. "Empire Windrush", to ascertain why the fire spread so rapidly; and whether a greater use should not be made in new construction of incombustible materials in addition to existing fire-detection and fire-fighting appliances.

The court which will inquire into the fire which led to the loss of the "Empire Windrush" will, I am sure, investigate the rate at which the fire spread as well as all other relevant matters.As for the second part of the Question, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1948, provided for three methods of protecting passenger ships structurally against fire. Briefly, the first requires the use of incombustible materials, the second the fitting of an automatic sprinkler, fire detection and fire alarm system, and the third a modified use of incombustible materials combined with an automatic fire detection and alarm system and a restricted use of combustible materials and furnishings. With all three methods there must be fire-resisting bulkheads spaced at intervals not greater than 131 feet. The British rules permit all three methods except that in the first they also require an automatic fire alarm and detection system.I am satisfied that it is not necessary to require by regulation any greater use of incombustible materials than is already provided for by the Convention and the rules."Empire Windrush" was built before the Convention and the rules came into force.

98, 99 and 100.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation(1) on how many occasions during the past two years defects in the machinery or engines of the troopship "Empire Windrush" have had to be repaired by the crew during a voyage;(2) on how many occasions during the past two years has the s.s."Empire Wind-rush" failed to maintain her prearranged schedule through engine or machinery defects;(3) on how many occasions during the last two years the s.s. "Empire Wind-rush" had repairs to her engines and machinery at ports outside the United Kingdom.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (1) on how many occasions in 1953 and 1954 reports were made of engine trouble in the engine room of troopship" Empire Windrush"; the nature of the complaints; and what action was taken;(2) the last occasion that fire was reported in the engine room of the troopship" Empire Windrush."

As I announced to the House on Monday of last week, I have ordered a formal investigation, that is, a public inquiry, under the Merchant Snipping Acts into the circumstances attending the loss of the "Empire Windrush." This casualty is, therefore, sub judice and it would not be proper for me to answer questions on even purely factual matters when those are such as must be investigated by the court.The" Empire Windrush" was, as the House knows, owned by the Government and it is, therefore, specially important that the usual practice which is followed when a formal investigation has been ordered should be observed in this instance.I propose to do all I can to expedite the holding of the inquiry and I can obviously say nothing that might be held to prejudice the proceedings of the court.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what compensation is to be paid to the relatives of the four men killed in the engine room of the troopship" Empire Windrush."

In addition to the statutory death benefit payable under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act to the dependants of the four men, payment of four years' salary will be made in each case under the pension and insurance scheme of the New Zealand Shipping Company, by whom the deceased were employed.Compensation for loss of effects is being paid in accordance with a National Maritime Board Agreement.

Fares, London (Increase)

101.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take, in view of the new proposals by the British Transport Commission for increased fares in the London area.

It is proposed to await the outcome of the public inquiry to be held by the Transport Tribunal in connection with the draft Passenger Charges Scheme which has been submitted to them by the British Transport Commission.

Vehicles (Lighting)

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when he intends to exercise the powers given to him by Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively, of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953.

I am proposing to exercise my powers under the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1927, as amended by Sections 1 and 2 of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953, which relate to reflectors and rear lamps respectively, from various dates beginning on 1st October, 1954. As from 1st October, 1954, the carrying of reflectors will become obligatory for all vehicles, including cycles. The provisions relating to rear lamps will become obligatory for new vehicles on the same date, for existing pedal cycles and motor assisted cycles on 1st October, 1955, and for other existing vehicles on 1st October, 1956.As manufacturers and users of vehicles may be in some difficulty if they do not know in the near future what their obligations may be as from 1st October, 1954, I have decided to announce in advance the intended effect of the regulations by issuing full details, including the operative dates, in a Press notice which may serve as general guidance to all concerned, before the regulations are actually laid before Parliament and come into force. Copies of this will be available to hon. Members in the Vote Office.

The proposals relate to the positions in which the lamps or reflectors will be required on vehicles, as from the dates and in respect of the classes of vehicles indicated. They also relate to the sizes of reflectors and lamps, and, in some instances, the wattage of lamps. I intend, at a later stage, to prescribe in more detail the performance to be complied with by the reflectors and rear lamps of all vehicles, including cycles, but in view of the time factor this will not be possible in the revision of the regulations now in progress.

As a temporary measure it is proposed that the present legal requirements for reflectors, as laid down in the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations, 1950, should be maintained, but that the size should be increased. A fuller technical specification is being prepared, which is to form the basis of what will eventually be laid down by regulation. I shall be glad to supply all manufacturers with copies of this specification, and I hope that, in anticipation of the regulations, reflectors manufactured and supplied in this country will have a performance at least equal to it.

A technical specification is also being prepared for rear lamps for motor vehicles, which again I will supply to all manufacturers, since it is to form the basis of what will eventually be laid down by regulations. A similar specification is also being prepared for cycle lamps.

The requirements as to reflectors in the present regulations do not represent a high performance by modern technical standards. It is not my present intention to make illegal, at least for several years, reflectors of the required size which comply in other respects with the present regulations, but may not comply with the full technical specification as eventually revised. I do not propose to make illegal rear lamps which comply with the requirements as to size and power which I am about to lay down, even after these requirements have been replaced, as I contemplate, by subsequent technical specifications. I do, however, sincerely hope that manufacturers and users will both endeavour during the transition period to maintain the highest standards of vehicle lighting which are practicable.

Regulations under Section 3 of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953, which deals with projecting and overhanging loads, will be prepared as soon as possible. In the meanwhile, I draw attention to the importance of the proper lighting of such loads, and to the necessity for ensuring that rear lamps and reflectors are at no time obscured by the tailboards, doors or ramps of a vehicle, especially when stationary.

Regulations under Section 4 of the Road Transport Lighting Act, 1953, which relates to reversing lights were made on 22nd October, 1953, and came into operation on 1st November, 1953.

Garage, Woodford Green (Building Licences)

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why, since 1946 he has sponsored the application and granting of building licences totalling £28,010 for Messrs. Lambs of Woodford, Standard House, Southend Road, Wood-ford Green, to facilitate the erection of vehicle repair and maintenance workshops, and a petrol station, when there are more than adequate facilities for that type of work in the numerous garages and workshops within the vicinity of these new buildings.

Applications for building licences for the extension, improvement and heating of this company's workshops at a cost of £20,545 were sponsored between 1946 and 1952 by the Regional Transport Commissioner, on the ground that additional maintenance and repair facilities, mainly for commercial vehicles, were needed in this district.The licence granted by the Ministry of Works in 1953 for the erection of a petrol station did not require such sponsoring. The Regional Transport Commissioner was, however, consulted by the Ministry of Works, and raised no objection to a project which he considered would relieve traffic congestion and promote road safety.