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Written Answers

Volume 524: debated on Saturday 8 May 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 8th March, 1954

Royal Commission On Marriage Laws (Report)


asked the Attorney-General when it is proposed to publish the Report of the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce.

I have nothing to add to the answer given to the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) on 14th December, 1953.

Ministry Of Food

Fresh Fruit (Consumption)


asked the Minister of Food to give an estimate of the consumption of fresh fruit per head of the population in 1951, 1952 and 1953.

Butchers (Bacon Curing)


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that under the terms of the Bacon Order, 1953, thousands of small bacon and pork butchers who are capable and deserving of curing bacon will be prevented from doing so in favour of large organisations; and if he will make a statement.

A number of butchers who produced very small quantities of bacon before the war have not been able to do so since rationing began. They will regain their freedom when bacon is derationed this summer.



asked the Minister of Food what estimate he has made of the number of slaughterhouses which will be necessary as a moderate concentration in Cornwall when meat rationing ends.

In the period immediately following decontrol this will be a matter for the local authorities in consultation with the trade and producing interests concerned. What may be required under the long-term policy of moderate concentration in this and other parts of the country is under consideration by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Slaughterhouses.

asked the Minister of Food what plans for the provision of sufficient abattoirs for slaughter are being made for the Epping area having regard to the decontrol of meat on 1st July next.

I have asked all local authorities to look into the position in their areas as a matter of urgency following the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Slaughterhouses in consultation with the meat trading and producing interests concerned. I have no doubt that the authorities in Epping will do so.

Ware Potatoes (Riddle)

asked the Minister of Food if he will consider the possibility of introducing a higher market riddle for white ware potatoes, while continuing the guarantee for all potatoes between 1½ in. riddle and any higher market riddle.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 17th November, 1953, to the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells).

Imported And Home Produce

asked the Minister of Food how the cost during the past 12 months

(1) Commodity(2) Estimated average prices of imported supplies, 1953–54(3) Estimated average prices of home produce, 1953–54(4) Proportions of imported and home-produced supplies, 1953–54
ImportedHome Produced
(£ per ton)(£ per ton)Per cent.Per cent.
Eggs3s. 6½d. per doz.4s. 5¾d. per doz.17·582·5
Sugar (raw)39·843·779·021·0
Barley (feeding)23·825·039·061·0
1. The prices in column (2) are approximate estimates of the average landed prices, excluding duty, for imported supplies. The prices in column (3) are approximate estimates of the average prices recoverable by farmers. In the case of meat, however, for the purpose of comparison of home and import prices, the prices both home and imported are the estimated cost at the point of entry to the Wholesale Meat Supply Association depot. It must be stressed that the figures in column (3) are for fresh home killed meat, whilst those in column (2) are for imported frozen and chilled meat. The price for home produced bacon is the estimated average cost ex factory.
2. Prices are for April-March, 1953–54, with the exception of wheat and barley, which are for crop year 1953–54.
3. The figures in the above table are estimates and therefore subject to revision.
>4. The average price of imported shell eggs (column (2)) is based on the Trade and Navigation Accounts for the calendar year 1953. The average price of home produced eggs (column (3)) is ex packing station.
5. It should be borne in mind that it is not possible to make accurate comparisons between the prices paid for home produced food and for imported supplies unless differences in quality, which may be substantial, and variations in the terms of purchase, are taken into account

Meat (Road Transport Vehicles)

asked the Minister of Food to give an estimate of the number of vehicles used in the wholesale transport of meat and used wholly or partly for the transport of meat; in how many of them the meat is carried on an open floor; in how many on an insulated floor and in how many in an insulated container equipped with hooks.

In all 3,023 vehicles are used by road transport services in the wholesale transport of meat, and of these 2,887 are wholly used for that purpose and 136 partly so used. They include 1,212 insulated vehicles equipped with hanging gear, 1,026 insulated but not so equipped, 534 not insulated but provided with hanging gear, and 251 open vans.

of imports of the main foods, such as beef, lamb, bacon, eggs, sugar, wheat and barley has compared with the prices of home produce; and the proportions imported and home produced in each case.

Pensions And National Insurance

Retirement Pensioners, Dundee (National Assistance)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the number of persons in Dundee who are in receipt of retirement pensions; the number who have their pensions added to by the National Assistance Board; and what increase there has been in the cases of supplementary assistance since November, 1951.

Information about the number of retirement pensioners in particular localities is not available. On 15th December last, the two National Assistance Board offices in Dundee, which extend beyond the city boundary, were paying 3,464 regular weekly grants of National Assistance in supplementation of retirement pensions. The corresponding figure for December, 1951, was 2,724. In some cases the assistance grant also covered the needs of a pensioner wife.

Old-Age Pensioners (Correspondence)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what reply he has received from Mr. Melling, Secretary of the National Federation of Old-Age Pensioners' Associations to his letter of 10th February asking for details of all old-age pensioners said to be suffering from hardship.

In reply to my request for particulars of the 2,700 pensioners mentioned in Press statements as suffering hardship I have received some 190 letters, most of them relating to pensioners with resources in addition to their retirement pension. The correspondence is still continuing.

Scottish Aviation Ltd (Twin Pioneer Aircraft)


asked the Minister of Supply what measure of control he has required for his Department in the direction of Scottish Aviation Limited, in view of the financial support they are receiving from the Government.

None. As I have already explained, the Government's financial support is in the form of a development contract for a particular project, namely, the Twin Pioneer passenger aircraft.


Opencast Prospecting Application, Rivelin Valley


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far the borings now going on in the Rivelin Valley in and near Sheffield are likely to lead to opencast coal workings in that part of Sheffield's green belt.

No borings for opencast coal are going on in this area but my right hon. Friend has received an application from the National Coal Board for authority to carry out prospecting, and is consulting the other interests concerned.

Fuel Efficiency


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking to amplify the industrial fuel efficiency loans scheme; and whether he will make a statement.

Loans can now be considered for proposals which relate to non-industrial as well as to industrial schemes, provided that they are calculated to save substantial amounts of fuel and are not primarily required for replacement of equipment necessitated by wear and tear.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will publish in convenient form the outcome and results of the industrial fuel efficiency loans scheme for the period since inauguration in May, 1952, to 28th February, 1954, to show over 22 months of operation the efficacy or otherwise, of the arrangements.

Yes. But it will be some time before the results of these schemes will be known.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has now completed his survey of industrial steam usage with a view to promoting further employment of back pressure turbines in all suitable cases, and in view of the significant coal economies that may thus be achieved; and when, and in what form, he proposes to publish the results of the survey.

The survey is now nearly completed and the results will be published in a few months time in the Ministry's Statistical Digest.

Nationalisation (Compensation Payments)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the total amount of compensation payment to subsidiary interests transferred to the National Coal Board under Section 10 (2) of the Coal Indus try Nationalisation Act, 1946, in respect of each of the six valuation districts for which such valuations have been completed, showing the total amount in respect of each district and the amount of such payment apportioned to each interest.

The amounts of compensation in respect of subsidiary

DistrictTotalStocksand storesMain-line wagonsMiscellaneous
North Staffordshire2,174,641915,021290,826968,794
Forest of Dean235,32397,120104,01134,192


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what amount of the £237 million compensation paid to the previous owners of the coalmining industry is charged to the revenues of the industry; and what this amount represents in terms of each ton of coal produced.

The whole amount is being recovered from the National Coal Board by annuities extending over 50 years. The interest element, which at present is approximately 10d. per ton of coal, is charged by the Board against the revenues of the industry; the principal content of the annuity is more than covered by the sums charged to revenue for depreciation of the vested assets.

Scotland (Rents)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the annual gross sum to be paid by tenants as a result of the Government's proposal to increase rents by 8s. in the £.

It would be impossible to make such an estimate without full information as to the number of houses in respect of which increases will be payable and the rents charged for these houses now.

Motor Vehicles (Disabled Ex-Service Men)


asked the Minister of Health on what basis motor-propelled vehicles are allocated to limbless or disabled ex-Service men.

Disabled people eligible for a motor tricycle are those in one of the following categories:

  • (a) double leg amputation (one above the knee);
  • (b) paraplegia;
  • interests in the six districts are as follows:

    (c) other disablement causing total or almost total lass of use of both legs;
    (d) serious disablement making a machine necessary in order to obtain or retain employment.

    Ex-members of the Armed Forces and Mercantile Marine may be supplied with a motor car in lieu of a motor tricycle if they are in one of the categories ( a), ( b)or ( c) above, provided that pension at the maximum rate is being paid for such disablement.

    British Army

    Rearmament Programme (Expenditure)


    asked the Secretary of State for War the total amount proposed in 1951 to be spent on the Army in the three-year rearmament programme; how much has actually been spent; and the value of the amount in terms of 1950 prices.

    £767 million; £616 million, taking the provision for the current year since the expenditure figure is not yet available; and £525 million.

    Recruiting Figures

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will place in the Vote Office a table of recruiting figures such as was made available last year.

    Entertainments Duty (Cinemas)

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how much has been paid on entertainment tax by cinemas since 1st April, 1953; and how the sum compares with that paid for the equivalent period in the previous year.

    Entertainments Duty receipts from cinemas in the period 1st April, 1953, to 28th February, 1954, amounted to £34.39 million compared with £3458 million in the corresponding period of 1952–53.

    Beef Imports

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the chief countries from which beef, fresh, salted and chilled, was imported in 1951, 1952 and 1953 as shown in the Trade and Navigation Accounts for December, 1953, and the quantities from each.

    The answer if as follows:

    New Zealand7951,1415,493
    Irish Republic145,856272,846444,195
    Argentine Republic68159,537
    All other countries1,33346037

    Government Departments (Sick Leave)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of days of sick leave taken on average by the staff of each Department of State for 1952 and 1953; and what financial and other arrangements apply to the staff of Government Departments in connection with sick leave.

    I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available. The provisions governing sick leave in the Civil Service are too long for reproduction in HANSARD, but my hon. Friend will find a description of them in Chapter 8 of the Factual Memorandum submitted by the Treasury to the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, published last month, of which I am sending him a copy. If there is any point on which he would like further information, I hope he will let me know.

    Police College (Policy)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make a statement on his present policy for the Police College.

    I do not contemplate, and indeed would strongly oppose, any change in the Police College which would affect the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all those who enter the police service for England and Wales. The policy remains as stated in the White Paper (Cmd. 7070) presented to Parliament in March, 1947.

    Day-Old Chicks (Transport)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the suffering caused to day-old chicks by delays in rail transport; and if he will make stricter regulations with regard to their conditions of transport by rail.

    My right hon. Friend is not aware of any cases of suffering caused to day-old chicks by delays in transit. The Conveyance of Live Poultry Order, 1919, is designed to afford adequate protection, but if my hon. Friend will let me have details of any specific instances of the kind he mentions I will gladly look into them.

    Housing Statistics

    asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the number and proportions of permanent houses and flats with one, two, three and four or more bedrooms completed by local authorities and new town development corporations in 1953.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) on 9th February and the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) on 26th January.