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Written Answers

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 4th May, 1954

Housing, Spilsby (Ex-Service Huts)

27.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how many ex-Service huts are still used for housing facilities in the Spilsby rural district, and why he recently restricted the council housing programme for Spilsby in 1954 from 130 to 60 when conditions still exist such as described in correspondence which has been sent to him.

55 families are still living in huts used for emergency housing purposes on four sites in Spilsby rural district. As my hon. and gallant Friend has already been informed by letter, I do not anticipate any restriction in the completions of this authority in 1954. I expect them to reach a total at least as high as in recent years. They should thus be able to continue to rehouse families from these ex-Service huts.

Children's Playgrounds (Damage Risks)

31.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether his attention has been drawn to the recent case in which a parish council was held liable to pay heavy damages to a child who was injured on a children's playground owned by the council; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that local authorities are not discouraged from providing children's playgrounds owing to the risk of having to pay heavy damages.

It is for the Local Authorities to consider their position in the light of the case to which my hon. Friend refers, but on present information I have no reason to think it will have the effect he suggests on the provision of playgrounds.

Employment

Half-Caste Children

36.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement concerning the difficulties of the half-caste child in entering skilled occupations; and the policy of his department towards them.

I have no information to suggest that there is any general difficulty. It is the policy of the Youth Employment Service to make its facilities available without any distinction of race or colour.

Theatre Royal Exeter (Musicians' Dispute)

37.

asked the Minister of Labour why an official of his Department acted as chairman at a meeting held on 24th August, 1953, between representatives of the Musicians' Union and the proprietor of the Theatre Royal, Exeter.

I understand that in February of last year the management of the Theatre Royal, Exeter, reduced the size of their orchestra and that later, following representations by the Musicians' Union, the remaining five musicians withdrew their labour. My Regional Industrial Relations Officer in Bristol had been in contact with the employer and the union and in August, 1953, considered that an attempt might then be made to secure a resumption of work. He therefore invited the parties to a joint meeting under his chairmanship, which took place on 25th August, but, unfortunately, no agreement was reached.

Republic Of Ireland Citizens

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons registered at employment exchanges in Great Britain in each of the last five years, whose normal place of residence is in the Irish Republic.

I regret that the information desired by my hon. and gallant Friend is not available.

Scotland

Tulliallan House (Repair And Reconstruction)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the total cost of reconstruction and repairs at Tulliallan House.

The final figures for the cost of repairing and reconstructing Tulliallan Castle for use as the Scottish Police College are not yet available, but the most recent estimate is that expenditure of about £68,000 has been incurred on this work.

Light Industries, Midlothian

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the intended closure of the Imperial Chemical Industries plant at Roslin, Midlothian; and if his Department will therefore consider the advisability of introducing light industry into Midlothian.

I am aware of the impending closure of this factory. The Government will continue to bear in mind the position in the developing coalfield area of Midlothian.

Ministry Of Defence

Expenditure

48.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence what action he is now taking to secure a reduction in defence commitments and expenditure in the coming year.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to a similar Question on 29th April.

National Service

49.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence whether he will now reduce die period of National Service, in view of the new decision of the United States of America on this point; and whether he will try to persuade all the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to adopt the same period of National Service.

No. I am informed that the United States Congress is not being asked, nor are any steps contemplated by the United States Administration, to reduce the period of whole-time service of men conscripted into their Armed Forces; but certain proposals for strengthening the reserves, and affecting men not otherwise conscripted into the forces, are under consideration. The latter part of the Question doss not appear to arise.

British Army

Commitments And Expenditure

50.

asked the Secretary of State for War what action he is now taking to secure a reduction in the Army's commitments and expenditure in the coming year.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to his Question on this subject on 29th April this year.

Regular Recruitment

51.

asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent recruitment to the Regular Army fell below the estimated need in the first quarter of 1954; and what further action he is taking to stimulate recruitment.

The rate of recruitment in the first quarter of this year, if maintained throughout the year, is not unsatisfactory in relation to the Army's planned needs. The steps which my right hon. Friend is taking to maintain the level of recruiting, including the measures recently announced, are designed to make the Army an attractive career and will, I hope, encourage even larger numbers to come forward.

2Nd Training Regiment, Catterick (Pay Deductions)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for War what deductions are made from the money of soldiers in the 2nd Training Regiment, 1st Squadron, Mons Lines, Catterick Camp; and whether he is aware of resentment caused by compulsory sports contributions in the absence of free sporting facilities.

The monthly deductions are 1s. 6d. for hair-cutting and 6d. as sports subscription. The latter payment is voluntary and goes towards the purchase and upkeep of unit sports kit. Sports grounds are provided free.

Paper Control (Contents Posters)

55.

asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, if he will consider the repeal or amendment of the Control of Paper (Contents Posters) Order, 1950.

My noble Friend does not consider that the supply position justifies the removal or relaxation at present of this restriction on the use of newsprint and other printing paper. He is advised that revocation of this Order would be likely to add at least 25,000 tons a year to the overall consumption of newsprint. He has not received any request from the Newsprint Rationing Committee for the revocation or modification of this Order.

Japanese Textile Industry (British Investment)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much British capital has been invested in the Japanese textile industry.

I have no precise information about this. No investment in the Japanese textile industry is included in the latest estimates published by the Bank of England of the nominal value of overseas investments of residents of the United Kingdom through the medium of securities quoted on, or otherwise known to, the London Stock Exchange.

Nigeria (Groundnuts)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what amount accrues to the Groundnuts Marketing Board in Nigeria on each ton of groundnuts sold and what amount on the equivalent expressed as oil and cake; and what amount is paid to the Nigerian Government in export duty on similar quantities.

pursuant to the reply of his hon. and learned Friend [OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th March, 1954, Vol. 524, c. 160] supplied the following information:The information requested about the amounts per ton accruing to the Nigeria Groundnut Marketing Board and paid to the Nigerian Government in export duty are given in the table below. The figures relate to the Board's trading year ended 31st October, 1953, during which certain tonnages of groundnuts shipped from the 1951–52 crop were paid for at the guaranteed minimum price in the Ministry of Food's contract with the Board.

Amount accruing to BoardExport duty
£ per ton£ per ton
1. Groundnuts exported as nuts11·088·16
2. Groundnuts exported as oil and cake3·317·38
of which—
oil−1·405·51
cake4·711·87

Note.—One ton of groundnuts produces, on average. 0·42 ton of oil and 0·58 ton of cake.

Pensions And National Insurance

Rent Increases (Supplementary Assistance)

57.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the estimated cost in supplementary pension increases which will be required to compensate pensioners and others for increases in rents arising from the proposals to permit increased rents for controlled houses.

I am informed by the National Assistance Board that no such estimate is possible.

Sheffield Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many persons suspected of being affected by pneumoconiosis were examined by the Sheffield Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel during the years 1952 and 1953, respectively; and in how many cases the diagnosis was confirmed by the panel.

The number of persons claiming benefit for pneumoconiosis under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts first examined by the Sheffield Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel in 1952 was 857, and in 1953, 1,132. Of these, 480 and 477, respectively, were found to be suffering from the disease.