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Written Answers

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 14 April 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 14th April, 1954

Ministry Of Food

Butchers' Equipment (Finance)

1.

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements he has made with master butchers to assist them in financing the capital investment which may be necessary in respect of equipment required to fulfil the provisions of the proposed Food and Drugs (Amendment) Bill.

None. Preliminary consultations have been started with interests concerned on steps that might be taken after the enactment of the Bill to secure cleaner handling of food. But no question of financial assistance arises.

Bread Production

5.

asked the Minister of Food the figures for bread production in the United Kingdom at the latest convenient date and for the same date in 1953, 1952 and 1951, respectively.

Figures for bread production are not available. For the four weeks ended on 20th February, 1954, the average amount of flour used weekly in the production of bread in the United Kingdom is estimated at 53,800 tons. The figures for the corresponding periods in 1953, 1952 and 1951 are 55,600 tons, 57,300 tons and 56,800 tons, respectively.

Iodised Salt

6.

asked the Minister of Food whether he has considered, in connection with the proposed legislation for the compulsory use of iodised salt, the number of people who are allergic to iodine; and whether he will give the House assurances on their behalf.

No decision has yet been taken to add iodine to salt. Before any such decision is taken, full consideration will be given to the point raised by the hon. Gentleman.

Eggs

11.

asked the Minister of Food the amount of egg subsidy paid in the year ended 31st March with the proportions applied to home-produced and imported eggs.

About £21·9 million, of which £18·7 million was for home-produced and £3·2 million for imported eggs.

12.

asked the Minister of Food the number of eggs passing through licensed packing stations and the average prices paid to producers during the year ended 31st March compared with the previous year.

14·4 million boxes of 360 eggs in 1953–54 and 13·5 million boxes in 1952–53; the average prices paid to producers were 4s. 3d. per dozen in 1953–54 and 4s. 8½d. per dozen in 1952–53.

Kenya (University Scholarships)

32 and 33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) how many university scholarships the Kenya Government awarded last year to students of European descent, to students of African descent, and to students of Asian descent, respectively; and how many applications were received in each group;(2) how many university scholarships the Kenya Government awarded to universities or university colleges in Africa and in the United Kingdom respectively; and how the scholarships were distributed between those of European, African and Asian descent.

The information which the hon. Member desires is not available here, but I have asked the Governor of Kenya for details. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as I have his reply.

Royal Navy

Destroyers (Conversion Costs)

52.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps he is taking to reduce the cost of contracts for the conversion of fleet destroyers into fast anti-submarine frigates.

Discussions are proceeding between the Admiralty and the Ship Repairers' Central Council on the relatively high costs of conversions by contract compared with the cost of similar work carried out in Her Majesty's dockyards. I may add that the work carried out on these vessels, whether by contract or in the Royal dockyards, is restricted to the absolute minimum to meet essential requirements.

Frigate (Visit To Barry)

56.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will make a statement concerning the promised visit of some of Her Majesty's ships which will berth at Barry Dock.

Arrangements are being made for the frigate "Caistor Castle" to visit Barry during the Marine Festival from 15th to 22nd July.

Shipbuilding (Exports To Ussr)

57.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the tonnage limit of larger merchant vessels that can be supplied to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to Poland.

The tonnage of individual ships is only one factor governing the export of shipping to the Soviet bloc. Each application has, therefore, to be considered on its merits.

58.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what value of shipbuilding orders have been placed with British firms by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the last 12 months.

Television

Licence Fee (Savings Stamp Card)

59.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what has been the result of his examination of the possibility of introducing a special savings stamp card for payment of the television licence fee.

As I explained in the debate on the Adjournment on 9th April, I am sure that the needs of people who wish to save up small sums towards television licences are fully met by National Savings Stamps and the free booklets which are already provided.

Bbc Second Programme

65.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what plans the British Broadcasting Corporation has submitted for a transmitter for a second television programme; and what channels have been made available to them.

Under the B.B.C.'s development plan the Corporation envisage starting a second television programme about 1957 for initially about an hour or two a day. No channels are yet available for this requirement.

Licence Revenue

62.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what he estimates would be the revenue available for television from the sale of 4,300,000 £5 broadcasting licences; and what is the revenue expenditure of the British Broadcasting Corporation on its present television programme.

The gross revenue would, of course, be £21·5 million, but as I told the hon. Member on 7th April, the net revenue allocated to the B.B.C. has always been based on an examination of their forward programme, including both capital and revenue expenditure, after which the Government has decided what licence fees are necessary to meet the Corporation's reasonable needs and to cover Post Office costs and a contribution to the Exchequer.This is the basis upon which the estimate of a £5 licence given in December last by my noble Friend and myself was made. It was assumed that the B.B.C. would provide a second television programme in 1955-56 (that is, at the same time as we expect the new Authority to start), for the same number of hours a day as we expect from the Authority. It was further assumed that the second B.B.C. programme would cost as much in revenue expenditure (i.e. £3·5 million), and one-third in capital expenditure (i.e. £0·5 million), as the first programme for 1953-54.To this total of £4 million was added the B.B.C.S own forecast of expenditure in 1955–56 for their first television programme (i.e. £5·4 million revenue and £2·9 million capital), as well as a sum of £2·5 million to cover income tax. The grand total of £14·8 million was then divided by 4·3 million, the estimated number of licences in 1955–56, and to the resultant figure of £3 9s. per licence was added £1 for sound and 10s. to cover Post Office costs and Exchequer contribution. No allowance was made for any subsidy to television from sound.

Schools Service

69.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what consultations he has had with the British Broadcasting Corporation regarding the facilities available for the commencement of the proposed school television service on an experimental basis.

Post Office

Sorting Clerks, Manchester (Employment)

61.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General why his Department has given notice to temporary sorting clerks employed at Manchester, some of whom have 10 or more years' service and some of whom are nearing 65 years of age.

As I have already informed my hon. Friend, most of these officers are not eligible for permanent employment and cannot be kept on in their present capacity as they are holding up the promotion of established postmen. Temporary employment as postmen has, however, been offered to all the men concerned except one who is over 70 years of age.

Collections, Knowle

63.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will arrange to link the last collection of letters from Knowle with the 7.30 p.m. collection from Solihull, two miles away, so that Knowle will have the benefit of a later collection than 5.45 p.m. which at present causes inconvenience.

No. The posting facilities in Knowle compare favourably with those in similar districts elsewhere and I regret that improvements could not be made without a prohibitive increase in manpower and money.

Postal Transactions (Deficit)

70.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what steps he is taking to eliminate a loss of £340,000 estimated as the cash deficit on postal transactions during the year ending 31st March, 1955.

Post Office policy is guided by the commercial estimates, which show a surplus.

Mobile Offices

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many travelling post offices are used by his Department; where they are operated; and the average number of days on which they were employed during 1953.

Three; these mobile post offices are used at agricultural shows and other outdoor events. In 1953, they were occupied for an average of 140 days each.

Telephone Service

North Berwick

64.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what progress he has made in replacing shared line telephone service with exclusive service in Scotland during the past 12 months; and if he will, in particular, give figures for North Berwick.

Our first objective must be to reduce the waiting list for telephones to manageable proportions, and until this is substantially achieved I regret that there can be no question of replacing shared lines by exclusive lines. The number of shared lines in North Berwick is 116, as compared with 72, 12 months ago.

Non-Automatic Exchanges, West Riding

67.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the number of non-automatic telephone exchanges in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Wireless

Reception, Cornwall And Dundee (Vhf Network)

66.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether, in view of the poor radio reception suffered by many parts of Cornwall for many years, special consideration can be given to the desirability of giving the needs of Cornwall a high degree of priority in the setting up of the proposed very high frequency network.

My noble Friend hopes to make a statement soon about the development of very high frequency broadcasting.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when the proposed very high frequency station in the Brechin area is expected to be installed; whether it will provide improved reception of the Light Programme in the City of Dundee; and what is the estimated cost of the adaptation required to radio receivers.

My noble Friend is considering proposals made by the B.B.C. for the first stage of V.H.F. sound broadcasting and hopes to make an announcement on the subject shortly. I should say, however, that it is unlikely that Dundee will benefit from this first stage.With regard to the last part of the Question, I cannot at present add to the statements in the Television Advisory Committee's Second Report, page 9, paragraph 7 (4), and page 22, paragraph 12.

Car Radios

68.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many licences are in force in respect of car radio sets; and an estimate of the percentage this represents of the actual number of sets installed in vehicles.

The answer to the first part of the Question is 223,500; as to the second, it is not at present possible to form any reliable estimate.

Royal Air Force

(Detention Barracks, Wahnerheide)

71.

asked the Undersecretary of State for Air what action he is taking to improve the administration of the detention barracks at Wahnerheide, near Bonn.

My noble Friend fully shares the public concern at reports of conditions at this unit, and a formal court of inquiry into the administration there is now in progress.

72.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many Royal Air Force officers are on duty at Wahnerheide detention barracks, Germany; and what ranks they hold.

Roads

Forth Queensferry Passage (Vehicles)

73.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware -that the proposed improvements to the Forth Queensferry Passage will still only allow for the carriage of commercial vehicles of approximately five tons unladen weight; and what steps he contemplates to remedy this state of affairs.

Vehicles up to seven tons unladen weight are, in fact, accepted at the discretion of the masters of the ferry vessels. The small proportion of vehicles which exceed this limit will have to continue to use alternative routes after the improvement of the ferry.

Linthouse-Whiteinch Tunnel (Shields)

77.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how long it will take to build the shields required for the Linthouse-Whiteinch Tunnel.

I cannot yet say whether new shields will be needed for this tunnel. The time that it would take to build a shield is now estimated at about 15 months, but this is not likely to delay the commencement of the work.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the cost of constructing the shields for the Linthouse-Whiteinch Tunnel.

Highway Grants (Use)

78.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation which highway authorities have, during the current year, requested permission to spend on road improvements that proportion of the sum granted to them for maintenance purposes which they do not find it necessary to spend: and whether he will now allow greater latitude as regards money earmarked for road maintenance to go to road improvement wherever highway authorities are able to make the necessary economies on maintenance work.

I think that the hon. Member is mistaken if he implies that money is allocated to highway authorities for maintenance in excess of requirements. There is, however, an arrangement enabling authorities to use money originally allocated for maintenance for the purpose of limited widenings or realignments desirable for the more efficient execution of maintenance work. Many highway authorities will, no doubt, be availing themselves of this arrangement. Apart from this we have received no such requests as the hon. Member has in mind, and on my present information I do not think that any greater latitude is called for on the lines suggested.

Transport

Inter-City Air Travel

74.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what further information he can now offer to all the local authorities interested in intercity helicopter travel which will enable them to decide whether this type of travel is going to be a feasible proposition or not.

Arrangements already exist to provide interested local authorities with information about the performance of helicopters as it becomes available. Full information has already been given about helicopters in current civil use in this country. It is unlikely that I shall be able to add materially to this information until more is known about the performance of future types.

75.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what further information he now has to show that he new type of small aircraft, described as quick lift and short run aircraft, will be the answer to future intercity air travel; and if he will give some information on the performance of this type of aircraft.

Presumably the aircraft the hon. Gentleman is referring to is the Twin Pioneer, now under development by the Scottish Aviation Company. Its estimated performance suggests a take-off run of the order of 1,000 ft. at its maximum all-up weight, which will allow for the carriage of 16 passengers or over 4,000 lb. of freight for a distance of 160 nautical miles.Further information about the performance of this aircraft must await the flight testing of the prototype, which is expected to begin towards the end of this year.

Thesiger Committee Recommendations (Consultations)

76.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, what interests have been consulted, and are to be consulted, about the recommendations of the Thesiger Committee: and by what date he anticipates he will be in a position to take action upon some of these recommendations.

Certain recommendations of the Committee have been embodied in the Transport Charges, etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill now before the House. A memorandum on their proposals as to contract carriages has been circulated for comment to the representative bodies who submitted evidence to the Committee and a further memorandum indicating my right hon. Friend's preliminary views on other recommendations of the Committee will be circulated very shortly. The date of implementation of the recommendations as finally adopted must depend on whether they require administrative action, regulation or legislation.

Commission's Vehicles (Disposal)

79.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give the latest figures of disposals of vehicles by the British Transport Commission, including those in list R1, both with and without premises; and what percentage disposals represent the total number of vehicles offered and the total vehicles which must be sold under the provisions of the Transport Act, 1953.

The number of vehicles sold in units without premises in Lists Nos. 1 to 3 and No. R.1 is 2,316 or 79 per cent. of the vehicles offered in such units. No decisions have yet been taken on tenders for units with premises re-offered in List R.1. In Lists 1 to 3, 791 vehicles have been sold in units with premises which represents 11 per cent. of the vehicles so offered. The 3,107 vehicles sold to date represent about 10 per cent. of the total number eventually to be offered and disposed of.

Comet Aircraft (Loss)

80.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will order a special investigation into the question of sabotage at the forthcoming inquiry into the loss of the Comet aircraft.

The investigation of the accident will take account of all possible factors including sabotage.

Vehicle Levy (Payments)

81.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how much has been paid as vehicle levy by local authorities, Government Departments and private owners, respectively.

The payments made by Government Departments are expected to amount to £100,000 for the year 1954. The total from all other sources so far collected is about £3,475,000. It is not possible to distinguish the part paid by local authorities.

Committee For European Migration (British Membership)

82.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government have yet decided to join the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration.

No. Her Majesty's Government appreciate the work which the Committee is doing. But I regret that financial considerations make it impossible for the United Kingdom to become a member at the present time.

German Rearmament

83.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that many who support the rearmament of Germans within the European Defence Community do so only because it avoids the establishment of a German Federal Republic national army; and what discussions he has had with the French and United States Governments on the political and military steps to be taken to prevent the establishment of a German Federal Republic national army outside the European Defence Community.

The European Defence Community Treaty itself prohibits the establishment of a Federal German Republic national army outside the European Defence Community. Such discussions as are suggested in the second part of the Question do not appear to be called for.

Greek Earthquake (Relief)

85.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the sum spent by Her Majesty's Government in immediate relief for the victims of the Greek earthquake in August, 1953, and the sum Her Majesty's Government are contributing towards the long-term resettlement of the Ionian Islands.

As soon as news of the earthquake in Greece was received, a substantial amount of stores and equipment was despatched to the Ionian Islands for the immediate relief of the earthquake victims. The sum at present known to have been expended is approximately £290,000.Her Majesty's Government's contribution to the long-term reconstruction of the Ionian Islands has been fixed at £250,000.

Poison Gas Warfare (Geneva Convention)

84.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish the terms of the protocol for the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and bacteriological methods of warfare agreed in Geneva on 17th June, 1925, and the names of the signatories to this agreement.

The terms of the Geneva Protocol were published in Command Paper 3604 of 1930, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.The list of countries which had ratified and acceded to the Protocol up to 1930 is to be found in the White Paper. Since then, the following 16 signatory countries have ratified:

  • Bulgaria.
  • Chile.
  • Czechoslovakia.
  • Denmark.
  • Estonia.
  • Greece.
  • Latvia.
  • Lithuania.
  • Luxembourg.
  • Netherlands (including Netherlands Indies,
  • Surinam and Curacao).
  • Norway.
  • Portugal.
  • Roumania.
  • Siam.
  • Sweden.
  • Switzerland.

The following countries have acceded since the White Paper was published:

  • Ceylon.
  • Ethiopia.
  • Iraq.
  • Mexico.

The Central People's Government of China reaffirmed China's accession in 1952.

Disarmament

89.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, having regard to the fact that atom and hydrogen bombs are now produced in more than one country, if he will instruct the British representative at the forthcoming meeting of the United Nations Disarmament Commission to press for a policy of progressive and rapid reduction of armaments; and if he will give proof of Britain's good faith by announcing a reduction in armament expenditure by one half in the next year, the ending of Britain's position as a strategic base, and the removal of all foreign troops from this country.

The Disarmament Commission met last Friday at our request. It is to meet again today. Her Majesty's Government's representatives on it will continue to press for agreement on progressive and balanced disarmament.As regards the second part of the Question, I cannot accept the implicattion that Her Majesty's Government have not been acting in good faith, in the light of their persistent efforts in the face of Soviet obstruction. The answer is "No" Unilateral disarmament would only increase the danger of war.

Indo-China (Usa Request)

88.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what response he has made, or will make, to the official request of Mr. Dulles, made to this country, that the European Western Powers should send a warning to the Chinese People's Government to the effect that they should stop helping Communist rebels in Indo-China, in view of the danger of provoking retaliation.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which my right hon. Friend made yesterday.

Jet-Propelled Helicopter (Development)

90.

asked the Minister of Supply what information he has on the development of the new jet Rotodyne.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Dart-ford (Mr. Dodds) on 22nd March.

Fuel And Power

Oil Refining Scheme (Cost)

91.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the estimated cost of the expansion of the oil refining scheme in Britain from its pre-war to its present level.

Coal And Oil Prices (Increase)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the increases in the index prices of coal and oil, respectively, between 1st January, 1946, and today.

Since the beginning of 1946, the pithead price of coal for inland disposal has increased by about 53 per cent, and the delivered price of heavy fuel oil by about 32 per cent.

Delegated Legislation (Government Proposals)

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to state the proposals of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the Report of the Select Committee on Delegated Legislation as a whole.

I have been asked to reply. Yes. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware, the House has already put into effect Recommendation (1) of the Select Committee, respecting the procedure for discussing negative Prayers, by approving the Sessional Order which I submitted on 31st March.Her Majesty's Government also accept Recommendation (3), respecting the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments (the Scrutiny Committee), although I must make it clear that it has always been the Government's object to set up this Committee as speedily as possible each Session. The Government also understand that Recommendation (4), which, likewise, concerns the Scrutiny Committee, presents no difficulty.With regard to Recommendation (5) of the Select Committee, respecting the period during which Statutory Instruments subject to negative Resolution remain open to annulment, Her Majesty's Government cannot hold out any prospect of early legislation to extend the present statutory period of 40 days.They considered it the more important, therefore, that means should be found of carrying out, so far as possible, the first part of this recommendation, namely, that the statutory 40 days should begin to run from the date when copies of a Statutory Instrument are available to hon. Members generally in the Vote Office.They therefore undertake to ensure by administrative means that at least 50 copies of instruments and drafts subject to negative Resolution will normally be made available in the Vote Office when the instruments or drafts are laid, subject to its being understood that there will be exceptional cases of an urgent kind where this will not be practicable for "bona fide" reasons of public interest; in such cases a supply of copies will be made available as soon as possible thereafter.With regard to Recommendation (6) of the Select Committee, concerning the forms of heading of Statutory Instruments, Her Majesty's Government will arrange that a suitable note in italics shall be included at the head of all instruments (including drafts) which cannot come into operation, and cannot, therefore, be registered as Statutory Instruments, until certain requirements, Parliamentary or otherwise, have been completed in respect of them, as such a note can be removed when the Statutory Instrument is finally printed for publication.They do not consider, however, that such a note would be desirable in the case of instruments laid after making and subject to negative Resolution (namely, those to which Section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946 applies) or laid with immediate effect but requiring affirmative Resolution, as a condition of continuance, as the note would appear on all copies printed and sold, or issued, up to the date, when a reprint was called for.Nor do they consider that a note is necessary in the case of the small category of instruments, which are required to be laid before Parliament after they are made, but which are exempt from both affirmative and negative Resolution procedure.Her Majesty's Government are unable to accept Recommendation (2) of the Select Committee, namely, that a Prayer for the annulment of a Statutory Instrument should set out the reasons for such annulment, and they do not regard Recommendation (7), relating to certain recommendations of the Donoughmore Committee, as calling for special comment.

Home Department

Motor Vehicle Offences (Return Errors)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to errors in the Return of Offences relating to Motor Vehicles for 1952; and whether he will make a statement.

I must apologise for two mistakes in this Return which was presented to the House in July, 1953.The figures relating to disqualification from driving and the endorsement of driving licences in the County of Cornwall were omitted from Table III. The entries for Cornwall in columns 16 and 17 of page 35 of the Return should be 167 disqualifications and 580 endorsements. The number of disqualifications shown in the same table for the County of Salop should read 167 and not 207. The totals for columns 16 and 17 on page 39 should, therefore, be 16,278 and 105,280 and the grand totals for columns 16 and 17 on page 41 should be 17,282 and 110,789.I am arranging for an amendment slip to be issued.

Crime (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether

Offence GroupOffences known to the police
19521953Variation per cent.
Violence against Person6,9977,083+ 86 or 1·2
Sexual Offences14,96716,317+ 1,350 or 9·0
Breaking and Entering97,94188,607— 9,334 or 9·5
Larceny341,512308,578— 32,934 or 9·6
Receiving9,1887,786— 1,402 or 15·3
Frauds and False Pretences27,23027,763+ 533 or 2·0
Malicious injury to Property5,0035,309+ 306 or 6·1
Forgery4,1734,649+ 476 or 11·4
Robbery1,002980— 22 or 2·2
Others5,5465,917+ 371 or 6·7
Total513,559472,989— 40,570 or 7·9

Trade And Commerce

Synthetic Robber Imports

asked the President of the Board of Trade from what countries synthetic rubber is imported into this country; and what quantities are imported from each.

During 1953 we imported 2,962 tons of synthetic rubber from the United States, 2,679 tons from Canada, 32 tons from Western Germany, 11 tons from Norway, and 1 ton from juvenile delinquency rose or fell in 1953 as compared with 1952.

I am glad to report a substantial decrease in the figures. Provisional figures for 1953 show that at all courts in England and Wales 22,508 children under the age of 14 (the lowest figure since 1947) and 16,182 young persons aged 14 and under 17 were found guilty of indictable offences.The comparable figures for 1952 were 26,212 and 18,866; and the decrease in both age groups was 14 per cent.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there was a decrease in the volume of crime in 1953 as compared with 1952.

I am glad to say that the provisional figures for 1953 show that the number of indictable offences known to the police in England and Wales during 1953 was 472,989, compared with 513,559 in 1952—a decrease of 40,570, or 7 ·9 per cent.These offences may be divided into groups, as shown in the following table: the Irish Republic. In 1954, imports of up to 15,000 tons from the dollar area will be permitted.

Calico Printing (Monopolies Commission's Report)

asked the President of the Board of Trade when the Monopolies Commission's report on the process of calico printing will be published; and if he will make a statement about the contents of the report.

The Report was published today. The Commission have found that conditions to which the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, applies prevail as respects the process of calico printing. Over 98 per cent, of the cloth printed on commission in the United Kingdom by this process is printed by members of the Federation of Calico Printers, who so conduct their affairs as to restrict competition; and nearly 50 per cent, is printed by one of the members— the Calico Printers' Association Ltd.The principal arrangements found to restrict competition are:

  • (i) a system of minimum price lists;
  • (ii) a supporting "percentage quantum" (P.Q.) Scheme. Each member of this scheme is allotted a percentage quantum of total turnover of all the members during each year and pays into or draws from a common pool if his business exceeds or falls short of his quantum;
  • (iii) the enforcement of certain uniform terms and conditions of trading;
  • (iv) an "engraving rental scheme," applicable only to certain styles and markets, which prescribes minimum rental payments in respect of the engraving of new designs;
  • (v) arrangements designed to limit the capacity available for calico printing. Under a redundancy scheme adopted in 1949 by most of the members of the Federation and administered by Print Trade Re-organisation Ltd., premises have been disposed of subject to restrictive covenants preventing their use, and that of the water rights going with them, for calico printing and certain other purposes. Members of the scheme who now dispose of premises must impose similar restrictive covenants to run at least until 1960 unless permission is given by Print Trade Re-organisation Ltd.
  • The Calico Printers Association have additionally a private agreement with the Bradford Dyers Association Ltd. and Bleachers Association Ltd. providing for similar restrictions.

    The Commission's principal conclusions and recommendations about the effect of these practices and conditions on the public interest are as follow:

    (a) The minimum price and P.Q. schemes, although formally distinct, are, in practice, interdependent and must be considered together.
    The Commission believe that these schemes hamper the ability of merchants to compete in overseas markets: that they are bound in some degree to lessen the printer's incentive to reduce his costs and that they limit the opportunity for the low cost printer to reduce his costs still further by increasing his turnover. They note especially that on entering the P.Q. scheme in 1949 printers were required to renounce their freedom of action in regard to prices and other important terms of trading for a period of ten years ahead.
    They consider that these arrangements may be expected to operate against the public interest and they recommend that the minimum price arrangements should be discontinued and the P.Q. scheme abolished. They see no harm, however, in the Federation's issuing a list of recommended minimum prices not enforceable by sanctions, provided that this list is published and freely available to all.
  • (b) Insofar as the Federation's arrangements for uniform terms and conditions of trading are compulsory the Commission consider them to be contrary to the public interest. The Commission see no abjection however to the publication of standard terms and conditions which printers can observe or not as they wish.
  • (c) The Commission consider that the engraving rental scheme in its present obligatory form is also against the public interest and should be discontinued. They would see no objection to the issue of a suggested scale of rentals provided it was freely available to all and printers were under no obligation to observe it.
  • (d) The Commission express no view on the justification for imposing restrictive covenants as part of an approved scheme for dealing with redundancy in a contracting industry. They say however that they have had no clear statement from the trade that there is redundancy at the present time; and they consider that in present circumstances the covenants operate against the public interest by preventing for an unreasonably long period access to some of the most suitable sites by any new enterprises which might wish to enter the calico printing trade, or by concerns already in the trade which might wish to expand. The Commission accordingly recommend that the agreements providing for these covenants to which the Federation or their members (including the C.P.A.) are parties should be terminated and that covenants already imposed should so far as possible be removed. The redundancy scheme should be terminated and Print Trade Re-organisation Ltd. wound up.
  • (e) The Commission recommend that restrictions on the disposal of printing machines contained in the redundancy scheme and in the P.Q. scheme should lapse when the agreements giving effect to these schemes are terminated.
  • (f) The Commission recommend that the C. PA. should end an agreement informally maintained with Bleachers' Association Ltd., limiting the extent to which the latter may participate in the printing trade.
  • Monopolies Commission (Robber Footwear Investigation)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement about further references to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission.

    A new reference was made to the Commission on 9th April. The subject referred is the supply of certain rubber footwear. The full text is as follows:

    Certain Rubber Footwear

    Whereas it appears to the Board of Trade that conditions to which the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, applies prevail as respects the supply of each of the following descriptions of goods, that is to say:

  • (a) rubber wellingtons and ankle boots
  • (b) footwear with canvas uppers and rubber soles.
  • Now, therefore, the Board in, pursuance of Section 2 (1) of the said Act hereby refer to the 'Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission for investigation and report the matter of such supply.

    The Commission shall as respects such supply investigate and report on

  • (1)whether the conditions to which the Act applies, in fact, prevail and, if so, in what manner and to what extent;
  • (2)the things which are done by the parties concerned as a result of or for the purpose of preserving those conditions; and
  • (3)whether the conditions in question or all or any of the things done as aforesaid operate or may be expected to operate against the public interest.
  • In this reference, "rubber" includes synthetic rubber, balata and gutta-percha.

    Use Of Historic Buildings (Bureau)

    asked the Minister of Works what action he is taking to find uses for important historic buildings which are without a use and in danger of demolition or decay.

    On the recommendation of the Historic Buildings Council for England, I have adopted a suggestion made by Lord Methuen, in another place, and set up a Historic Buildings Bureau. This Bureau will assist a Committee of the Historic Buildings Council to find uses for these historic buildings. My hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland (Mr. Vane) is the Chairman of the Committee.The Bureau will keep the Committee informed of historic houses for which a new use is required and of persons who might occupy or purchase such houses. Anyone looking for accommodation of a kind which could be provided by a historic house should write to the Director of the Historic Buildings Bureau at Romney House, Marsham Street, S.W.1.

    Regional Industry Boards (Committee's Report)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish the report of the committee appointed under the chairmanship of Sir Horace Hamilton to review the constitution and functions of the regional boards for industry.

    No. My right hon. Friend asked the committee to carry out the review and make its recommendations to him. Its report is, accordingly, confidential.

    National Finance

    Motor-Cyclists Helmets (Tax)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of what would be the cost to the revenue of removing Purchase Tax from motor cyclists' safety helmets.

    I regret a precise figure is not available. It would, however, be small.

    Civil Service Pensions

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many retired civil servants were drawing pensions on 1st April, 1954; and in how many cases the pensions started on or after 31st March, 1952.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the numbers of pensions payable on 1st April, 1954, to retired civil servants and the widows or other dependants of deceased civil servants, respectively, which has been or are being increased under the Pensions (Increase) Acts, and the number in each category ineligible for increase under these Acts.

    Of the pensions payable to retired civil servants themselves, about 85,000 were being or will be increased and 22,000 were not being and will not be increased under the Pensions (Increase) Acts, including the Pensions Increase Act, 1954. The corresponding figures for pensions payable to widows or dependants are about 6,500 and 3,000 respectively.

    Trade Effluents (Committee's Report)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received the report of the committee set up under the chairmanship of Lord Hill Watson to consider questions relating to the discharge of trade effluents into local authority sewerage systems.

    Yes. I have arranged for the committee's report to be published and copies will be available in the Vote Office this afternoon.

    St Catherine's Home (Hospital Board Payments)

    asked the Minister of Health how much money from public funds has been paid to St. Catherine's Home by the North-West Regional Hospitals Board in respect of Health Service patients treated there; and the average weekly charge.

    Since 5th July, 1948, the home has received some £20,000. The present weekly charge is £6 17s. per patient.

    Education Costs

    asked the Minister of Education if she will give an analysis under the headings of teaching, accommodation, books and other appropriate items of the average cost per annum to the State and to local authorities combined, of educating a child in a primary and in a secondary school.

    The latest figures available are those shown in a return prepared by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants and the Society of County Treasurers and relate to the financial year 1952-53. They are as follow:

    PrimarySecondary
    ££
    Salaries of teachers18·3132·88
    Books0·300·69
    Stationery and materials0·641·51
    Furniture, apparatus and equipment0·461·13
    Rent, rates, taxes and insurance0·681·67
    Upkeep of buildings and grounds1·492·68
    Fuel, light and cleaning2·614·30
    Salaries and wages of non- teaching staff0·410·70
    Other expenses0·190·72
    Totals£25·09£46·28
    The above figures do not include loan charges, medical services, administration and other ancillary expenditure.