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Written Answers

Volume 524: debated on Sunday 2 May 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 2nd March, 1954

Trade And Commerce

Pharmaceutical Drugs (Exports To East Europe)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what restrictions are still placed upon the export of antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs and fine chemicals to Eastern European countries; and what steps he proposes to take to free such commodities from any embargo.

There are no restrictions on the export of antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs, or chemicals of primarily medicinal use to Eastern European countries.

Industrial Development, North Staffordshire


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give consideration to assisting North Stafford shire in the development of new industries to accord with the changing pattern of British trade and manufacture.

I am not clear what change the hon. Member has in mind. There is at present a shortage of labour in North Staffordshire.

Exports To China

asked the President of the Board of Trade why certain goods may be exported to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics but not to China, in view of the fact that they may be sent from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to China.

Export controls on trade with China have been more stringent than those affecting the Soviet bloc because China has been engaged in active hostilities with the forces of the United Nations. I have no evidence that the goods in question are being re-exported from the Soviet bloc to China.

Irish Footwear ("Empire" Marking)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that a considerable amount of footwear marked "Empire" is imported into the United Kingdom from the Irish Republic; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that in the future such footwear shall be plainly marked "Made in the Irish Republic."

Yes. The Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, provides that imported goods must be marked "Empire" or "Foreign," as the case may be, or with a definite indication of the country of origin. By virtue of the Ireland Act, 1949, the mark "Empire" can legally be applied as an indication of origin on goods from the Irish Republic. I have no authority to insist upon a marking "Made in the Irish Republic."

War Damage Commission


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what date has been fixed for the completion of the work of the War Damage Commission and for the consequent winding up of the Commission.

No date has been fixed for winding up the War Damage Commission. Legislation would be necessary, and in view of the number of cases where war damage has yet to be made good, the time is not ripe for this.

Lords Bells And Papers (Vote Office Copies)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make House of Lords Bills and Papers available in the Vote Office of the House of Commons in the same way as House of Commons Papers and Bills are available in the House of Lords.

National Finance

Forged Bank Notes


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the forged bank notes which have come from the Continent; and what steps are being taken to counteract this.

In view of criminal proceedings which are now taking place, it would not be proper for me to make any statement. The hon. Member may rest assured that the whole question is under the closest investigation.

United States Farm Products (Purchases)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider, when contemplating a further purchase of United States farm products, making the details of the goods in question public with a view to ascertaining whether home or Commonwealth suppliers are in a position to fulfil his requirements.

I assume that the Question refers to purchases of farm products under the United States Mutual Security Act. The sterling counterpart of these purchases is appropriated in aid of the United Kingdom defence budget so that the imports are in effect a form of aid to the United Kingdom economy. I am satisfied that the steps already being taken to ensure that normal marketings from home and Commonwealth sources are not displaced are adequate.

Tax-Free Dividends (Profits Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, when dividends are distributed free of tax by companies, the money set aside to pay the tax is treated as a cost of production, or is taken as part of the distributed profits and taxed accordingly, or accepted as undistributed profit and receives the lower rate of tax.

A dividend paid by a company out of profits that have borne Income Tax which is expressed to be "free of tax" represents, for tax purposes, a distribution equal to the net dividend plus the Income Tax appropriate to it, and the gross amount is chargeable to Profits Tax at the higher (distributed) rate.

Public Boards (Chairmen)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many chairmen of the principal national boards who are appointed to their offices by Her Majesty's Government have not been reappointed after their first period of service since 1946; and how many have been appointed one or more times.

The term "principal national boards" might cover a wide variety of bodies to which Ministers make appointments. But assuming that the hon. Member has in mind public boards of a commercial character, the White Paper (Cmd. 9025) covers 13 such bodies. In all 27 persons have served as chairmen of these boards or of the former Iron and Steel Corporation. Of these 11 served for one term and were not reappointed, eight are still serving their first term, and eight (of whom five are still serving) have been reappointed once or more.

Central Office Of Information (Advertising Agencies)


asked the Secretary to the Treasury how many advertising agents applied to the Central Office of Information to act in the placing of Government advertising; how many have been so appointed; and what is the estimated total value of advertising involved.

Recognised advertising agencies applying to the Central Office of Information have their names added to a list from which appointments are made on the advice of an independent committee composed of representatives of the Press and of commercial advertisers. There are now 103 advertising agencies on the list and of these 19 have been appointed for campaigns to be undertaken in 1954–55. The annual value of the advertising is about £500,000.

Local Government

Sewerage Scheme, Newborough


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware of poor housing conditions in the village of Newborough, Anglesey, and the need for a sewerage scheme in the area; and if he will state the reasons for the delay in approving such a scheme.

Yes. As soon as my right hon. Friend gets some information for which he has asked the Rural District Council, he will arrange to hold a public local inquiry into the scheme.

Requisitioned Properties


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will make a statement on his policy with regard to the derequisitioning of privately-owned dwelling-houses.

My right hon. Friend is not yet ready to make a statement on this subject.

Welsh Tourist And Holidays Board (Contributions)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he has considered the conclusions of the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire (Second Memorandum), Paragraph 287, that rural district councils are precluded from contributing to a tourist and holidays board; and whether he will take steps to arrange for such councils, if they so desire, to affiliate to the Welsh Tourist and Holidays Board.

My right hon. Friend is prepared to consider extending to rural district councils the powers already available for this purpose to boroughs and urban districts, if the Rural District Councils Association ask him to do so.

Rate Increases


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware that the average rate in the £ levied in the administrative counties in England has risen from 11s. 4d. in 1932 to 20s. 11d. in 1953, particulars of which have been sent to him; and, in view of the fact that rates are a burden on industry, especially in the export trade, if he will do all in his power to restrict his demands on local authorities, arising from obligations laid down by statute.

My right hon. Friend is aware that rates rose between 1931–32 and 1952–53 approximately by the amount stated; the average rate for administrative counties in England for the year 1952–53 was 20s. 4d. On the second part of the Question, my right hon. Friend is continually urging local authorities to exercise economy in carrying out their duties

Building Land


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in view of the lack of building land within the boundaries of many local authorities, if he will now consider issuing a circular recommending that, in appropriate cases, two or more local authorities should establish a joint committee with a view to pooling their applications for accommodation in order to meet the worst cases.

My right hon. Friend will bear this suggestion in mind when next sending a circular to local authorities on housing management.

Air Pollution


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what record he has in his Department of devices which their inventors claim can mitigate the nuisance and danger of smoke pollution; whether consideration has been given to the apparatus, of which particulars have been sent him; and if he will consider the offering of a competitive reward for inventions capable of domestic adoption for this purpose.

All the suggestions my right hon. Friend receives are carefully examined by the appropriate experts. I will have the one about which the hon. Member wrote to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health examined, and I will write to him. A great many suggestions are received, and my right hon. Friend does not think that it would be useful to offer a competitive reward for more.

Ministry Of Works

Law Courts (Repairs)


asked the Minister of Works what are the alterations now being made to the pillars outside the Law Courts; what is the cost of the work; and if he will bear in mind the need for eliminating unnecessary expenditure.

The outer surfaces of the columns have crumbled badly and are being repaired at a cost of £131. If the stone were left to deteriorate the columns would, before long, have to be entirely replaced at a much greater expense.

Structural Steel (Price Quotations)


asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that firms supplying structural steel are quoting identical tenders to public authorities; if he has studied a recent case in Lancashire involving public money, the details of which have been supplied to him; and whether he will take steps to deal with this ring either by referring the question to the Steel Board or by recommending a reference to the Monopolies Commission.

I am aware that, firms fabricating and erecting structural steel frequently quote identical prices, as apparently happened in the case in Lancashire to which the right hon. Member refers. It has been the practice for many years for Government contracting departments to ensure, by costing and otherwise, that only a fair and reasonable price is paid for this work. The price of fabricated structural steel is not a matter for the Steel Board. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who is well aware of the position, will bear it in mind when further references to the Monopolies Commission are under consideration.

Industrial Firms (Technical Resources Survey)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, when it is proposed to publish the paper covering the results of the surveys of the technical resources of industrial firms, carried out by the Manchester Research Council, the Department of Engineering Production at Birmingham University and the Social Survey.

A report on the survey carried out by the Manchester Joint Research Council has now been completed. I understand it will be published on 12th March by the Manchester University Press under the title "Industry and Science." A copy will be placed in the Library. The information obtained during a survey of the technical resources of Midland industries, carried out partly by the Social Survey and partly by the University of Birmingham, is now being analysed. It is not proposed to publish separate reports either on this survey or on the pilot survey carried out by the Social Survey in two small areas in Southern England, but the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research hope to publish a general paper, covering them all, as soon as possible.

National Service

Extended Service (Civil Employment Rights)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider the possibility of giving similar protection to that given by the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act to youths called up for National Service to those who decide to volunteer for three years' service

My right hon. and learned Friend has already considered this proposal very closely and has not been able to find any ground for thinking it would serve a useful purpose. If might well create more difficulties than it solved.

Science Teachers

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider granting exemption from National Service to graduates who are intended science teachers.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley) on 17th December last.

Ministry Of Defence

National Service (Communists)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence whether known members of the Communist Party are accepted for military service under the call-up; and what is the form of the oath of allegiance they are required to take.

Membership of the Communist Party is not accepted as a reason for exempting men from their obligations under the National Service Acts. National Service men are not required to take any oath of allegiance.

Defence Production Programmes


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence if he will state, in terms of 1950 prices, the values of the production programmes for defence for 1953–54 and 1954–55.

Control Of Advertisements Regulations (Appeals)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will give details of the number of appeals by advertising interests dealt with during 1953 under the Control of Advertisements Regulations, 1948; how many of these appeals were dealt with at public hearings and by correspondence, respectively; how many, in each group referred, respectively, to posters, including bulletin boards but not trade signs, public information panels, and to trade signs on the premises of the

Type of AdvertisementTotal number of appeals decidedNumber dealt with by hearingNumber dealt with by correspondence (a)
Public Information Panels1064363
Trade Signs (b)6142929357199
(a) Including cases in which the site was visited by an officer of the Department accompanied by representatives of both parties to the appeal.
(b) These figures include appeals for direction signs not on the trader's premises, as shown in brackets.

British Army

Canal Zone (Missing Personnel)


asked the Secretary of State for War what instructions he has issued to commanding officers in the Canal Zone about notifying next-of-kin of men who are thought to have been kidnapped or are otherwise unaccountably absent from their units.

In addition to the normal procedure, in the special circumstances of the Canal Zone, where a man is absent from his unit for more than 96 hours and there is uncertainty about the reason for his absence, an immediate report is made to the War Office so that his next-of-kin may be kept fully informed.

Civilian Housing Accommodation (Applications)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the difficulties of discharged ex-Service men in finding housing accommodation when they have to leave married quarters; whether he is satisfied with the response of local authorities to Circular 8/52; and what steps are taken to inform all Service men that as length of time on the waiting lists of local authorities is normally an important factor in the allocation of housing, they should apply to their relevant authorities as many years occupiers concerned; and how many of each separate category were rejected or allowed.

The total number of appeals decided during 1953 was 1,593. Details are as follows:as possible before their anticipated discharge.

Yes. This is a problem common to all three Services and, as my noble Friend the Minister of Defence explained in a recent debate in another place, the Minister of Housing and Local Government is prepared to take up with the responsible local authorities any cases of difficulty brought to his notice. I can assure the hon. Lady that in the Army the need for making early application for civilian accommodation is brought to the notice of men about to leave the Colours.

Beverley Camp, Yorkshire (Conditions)


asked the Secretary of State for War what action he is taking regarding the unsatisfactory living conditions of the boy soldiers in the Royal Signals Corps at Beverley Camp, Yorkshire, particulars of which have been sent him by the hon. Member for Rugby.

Work has been put in hand to prevent a recurrence of the trouble during the recent very bad weather.

Korea (Missing Personnel)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many British officers and other ranks have been reported missing as a result of the Korean war.

During hostilities 66 officers and 1,192 other ranks were reported missing: of these, five officers and 96 other ranks are still classified as missing.

Emergency Reserve (Training)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and other ranks in the Army Emergency Reserve will not be posted to units during the current year and, as a consequence, will only be given block regimental training.

I regret that, at this stage of the year, I can give no worth while forecast. I can, however, say that steps are being taken to reduce the numbers in the general pools which contain the men who may be trained in this way.

National Service Men (Free Travel Vouchers)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will increase the free travel vouchers for National Service men to four per year.

No. I do not think that the considerable extra cost would be justified.

Territorial Army (Motor Mileage Allowances)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and other ranks of the Territorial Army receive motor mileage allowance at the higher and lower rates, respectively; and what were the total sums involved for the latest convenient period.

During the nine months ending 31st December last year, claims amounting to about £84,000 were paid. I regret that the number of payments involved and the amounts paid at the various rates are not available and cannot be obtained without undue research.

Whittington Barracks, Staffordshire (Tuberculosis)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many cases of tuberculosis, and of what types, were recorded by the medical authority at Whittington Barracks, Staffordshire, for the period, August, 1946, to July, 1952, in respect of personnel and families stationed in the barracks, from the Midlands Area Military Unit B, married quarters, outlying sections and units and the Medical Reception Unit.

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements are made to protect storemen handling bedding and clothing collected for laundering at Whittington Barracks, Staffordshire, from infectious diseases.

Trained Royal Army Medical Corps orderlies collect the infected articles and disinfect them at the medical reception centre.

Telephone Service

Wimbledon, Malden And Coombe

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many persons in the boroughs of Wimbledon, Maiden and Coombe, respectively, who have applied for telephones in their business premises and private houses, respectively, are still waiting for telephones; and what further delay he anticipates.

The figures are as follows:

Maiden and Coombe99648
Seven hundred and twenty-eight new lines were connected during the six months ended 31st December, 1953, and we hope to maintain this rate of connection during 1954.

East Kilbride

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many public telephone call boxes there are at East Kilbride; and when he proposes to augment the supply.

There are eight public call offices in East Kilbride and two more will be provided in a fortnight or so.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether, as an emergency measure, he will install enough telephones or telephone call boxes to ensure that no resident in East Kilbride need be more than a few hundred yards away from the means to summon a fire brigade.

Additional public call offices are being provided shortly, and plans are in hand to install others a little later on.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many of the doctors and ministers of religion who have applied for telephones at East Kilbride are not yet connected to the telephone system.

There are no applications outstanding from doctors. Three ministers of religion are waiting for service, and we hope to connect two of them by the middle of the year. I regret that owing to shortage of line plant I cannot say when we shall be able to connect up the third.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many applications for telephone service his Department have received from private dwellings, professional persons and business premises, respectively, in East Kilbride; and how many, in each category, have been supplied.

The figures since 31st December, 1951, are as follows:

ApplicationsNumber supplied

Housing, Scotland

Camis Eskan Camp, Helensborgh

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many huts at the Camis Eskan Camp, Helensburgh, have now been demolished; how many families still remain to be rehoused; and what allocation of houses have been given to the council for this purpose.

Forty-six huts have been demolished and 24 families remain to be rehoused. In 1952 the council received special allocations, totalling 130 houses, to assist them in rehousing the 190 families at that time resident in the various camps in the county, including Camis Eskan Camp. As the council are now free to build to the extent that the available building resources permit, no further allocations of houses are necessary.

Aluminium Houses, Dumbarton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps have been taken to improve the condition of the 49 aluminium houses in Dumbarton, in and around High Mains Avenue; and how far they have been successful.

A system of background heating installed experimentally in 1952 in 11 houses at this site has not proved effective in every case. The matter is to be further discussed with representatives of the Town Council next week.

Repair Certificates

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has now any information about the numbers of repair certificates issued in 1952 to tenants protected by the Rent Acts; and the number of such certificates which have been cancelled.

In the four cities, the 20 large burghs, and the counties of Ayr, Fife and Lanark, a total of 328 certificates of disrepair were issued in 1952; and 51 were cancelled on the completion of the necessary works. Of the total, 140 were issued in Glasgow and 130 in the county of Lanark.

Special Housing Association (Contractors)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses built by contractors on behalf of the Scottish Special Housing Association, at Bellsmyre, Dumbarton, have not been completed according to contract.

The Association's attention has been drawn to a house in this scheme where the internal paint work does not seem to conform to specification. The Association are at present looking into this.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what provision is made by the Scottish Special Housing Association to ensure that houses built for them by contractors are completed according to contract.

The Association employ registered architects, clerks of works and a small staff of building inspectors to supervise work on houses being built by contractors on their behalf.