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Written Answers

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 11th May, 1954

National Finance

Works Of Art (Import Doty)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what orders have been made by the Treasury under Section 1 (3) of the Import Duties Act, 1932, with regard to works of art.

The current exemptions for works of art from duty chargeable under the Import Duties Act, 1932, are set out in the Import Duties (Exemptions) (No. 4) Order, 1953. In brief, that Order exempts original paintings and drawings and— subject to certain conditions, including expert certification that the goods imported are indeed works of art— sculptures, engravings and etchings, and the engraved and etched blocks from which such prints are taken.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much duty has been paid to the Treasury since 1932 in respected of imported works of art by the museums and galleries whose expenses are defrayed by Parliament; and how much by other persons.

I regret that this information is not available. But in answer to the first part of the Question, goods of any description consigned to approved galleries and museums solely for use as exhibits have, since 1932, been admissible free of any duty chargeable under the Import Duties Act. 1932.

Statutory Instruments

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many statutory rules and regulations were in force at the latest convenient date.

Of the Statutory Instruments classified as general, there were in operation on 8th May, 1954, 409 made under emergency legislation, and 8,258 made under permanent legislation.

Ministry Of Food Staff (Transfers)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many ex-employees of the Ministry of Food have been absorbed in other Departments of State; and into which Departments they have been absorbed, giving the numbers for each.

The total number of staff from the Ministry of Food who have been found posts in other Departments since 1st July, 1953, is 3,279. These are, of course, established staff.The answer to the second part of the Question is contained in the following table of figures:

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries67
Air Ministry146
Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation68
County Courts57
Customs and Excise138
Export Credits Guarantee Department26
Forestry Commission42
General Post Office328
Home Office23
Ministry of Housing and Local Government28
Inland Revenue318
Ministry of Labour and National Service139
National Assistance Board506
Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance471
National Savings Committee23
Prison Commission31
Ministry of Supply153
War Office211
H.M. Stationery Office29
Other Departments256

River Pollution (Tidal Waters)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what action he proposes to take to enable river boards to control pollution of tidal waters of rivers.

I can extend a river board's powers to control the quality of tidal waters only if I am asked to make an order under Section 6 of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act, 1951.

Tyne Drainage Scheme


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what representations he has received from the Northumberland and Tyneside River Board regarding a proposal by the Castle Ward Rural District Council to discharge a main drainage scheme into the tidal waters of the Tyne; and what reply he has given.

The River Board have represented that the scheme would increase the pollution of the tidal waters of the Tyne. I am satisfied that the scheme is necessary and I have, therefore, approved it; but my officers are discussing with the authorities concerned what can be done in the long term to improve the condition of the Tyne.



asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the total number of houses under construction in England and Wales, with separate figures for the Northern Region, at the end of January, February, March and April, 1954, giving separate figures for houses being built by local authorities and by private builders.

Council Houses (Letting)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the letting of municipally-built houses as tied houses.

Councils are, by statute, entirely responsible for the letting of houses they own; but wherever possible the Government seeks to discourage the practice referred to by the hon. Member.

Ministry Of Works

Atomic Energy Stations (Hostels)


asked the Minister of Works how many persons live in the seven directly-managed hostels provided under the atomic energy estimates on which the annual loss in the current year is estimated at £74,000.

The number of residents varies slightly, but at the end of April it was 1,050.

Yew Hedge, St James's Park


asked the Minister of Works what steps were taken to ensure the adequate maintenance of the yew hedge planted around St. James's Park under the authority of his predecessor, by means of proper manuring, watering and other means.

The Parks staff did all they could for the yew hedge by manuring and watering. Considerable damage was caused by the public.

Transferred Workers, Industrial Hostels (Charges)


asked the Minister of Labour the gross cost of running the transference hostels; and what payments are made for accommodation by the transferred workers who use these hostels.

The total expenditure on the industrial hostels for transferred workers, which are managed on behalf of my Ministry by the National Service Hostels Corporation Ltd., was £3,374,365 in 1952–53. The present charges which have been fixed for residents are 47s. a week for men and 42s. a week for women for accommodation and 15 main meals. Receipts from residents for the same period were £2,277,688.

World Peace (International Talks)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement about the high-level talks proposed by him on 11th May, 1953.

I should certainly not hesitate to propose such a meeting as soon as I see any chance of its leading to fruitful conclusions.


Duke Street Prison, Glasgow


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if Duke Street Prison, Glasgow, has now ceased to be used for prison purposes: and if the buildings will be demolished and the site made available to Glasgow Corporation.

Duke Street Prison will be vacated as soon as alternative accommodation for the women prisoners is available. In intimating to Glasgow Corporation my recent decision on the Glasgow Development Plan, I asked the Corporation to submit revised proposals for the Townhead-Glasgow Cathedral area, which includes the prison site. The disposal and ultimate use of the site will be considered in connection with these proposals.

Eyemouth Harbour (Improvement)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement with regard to the present position and future prospects of improving Eyemouth harbour.

Part of the harbour known as Saltgreens Quay has recently been reconditioned with the aid of a substantial grant from the Development Fund; and the Harbour Trustees have submitted proposals which are at present being examined for a sluicing scheme to prevent silting at the harbour entrance. To secure temporary improvement one of my Department's dredgers will shortly carry out dredging in the entrance channel and harbour basin.



asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he proposes to undertake a new survey of housing requirements as suggested in D. H. S. circular No. 14/1954.

The appendix to the circular pointed out that the type and size of houses to be built could not be determined satisfactorily without an up-to-date survey of actual housing requirements. This is primarily a matter for the local authorities who have a statutory duty to consider the housing conditions and needs of their districts.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he has taken to facilitate the examination of the new lower standard houses by local authority representatives; and how many such houses are available for inspection, other than in Edinburgh.

I cannot, of course, accept the implication that living standards have been lowered. Local authorities were invited, by a circular issued on 5th April, to inspect the demonstration flats built to the new standards in Edinburgh, which will be open for inspection until 29th May.I understand that houses to the same standards have been built in other districts by non-traditional contractors, who will, no doubt, be ready to facilitate inspection by local authorities.

East Fife Hospitals Board


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many members of the East Fife Hospitals Board of Management have served in that capacity since 1948; how many have been recently replaced; and the names and qualifications of the new Board members.

Eleven of the present 21 members of this Board have served since 1948. Three retiring members, two of whom had served since 1948, were not reappointed on 1st April, 1954. The new members appointed at that time were Dr. W. Bayne, general practitioner, Kirkcaldy; Mr. A. Eadie, Coaltown of Wemyss, who is a member of Fife County Council; and Dr. J. R. W. Hay, Medical Officer of Health, Kirkcaldy.

Motor Vehicle Drivers (Drink And Drugs)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons were reported last year, at the most convenient date, for driving, attempting to drive, or being in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drink; and the highest yearly total previously recorded.

The number of cases of driving, attempting to drive, or being in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drink or drugs which were reported to the police in Scotland in 1953 was 1,392; the highest yearly total previously recorded was 1,130 in 1951.

Forth And Clyde Canal Sites (Barriers)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will refer to the technical committee representing the Corporation of Glasgow, the British Transport Commission and the Scottish Home Department the question of provision of efficient barriers at known dangerous sites of the Forth and Clyde Canal, including the Glasgow Branch.

I am aware of the hon. Member's natural anxieties and I assure him that his suggestion will not be overlooked; but I am anxious that the committee's report on the Monkland Canal should be dealt with at once.

Creel Fishermen


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of lobster fishermen operating in the Western Highland and Islands in 1945 and 1953.

The number of fishermen mainly employed in creel fishing in the Western Highlands and Islands was 1,486 in 1945 and 828 in 1953.

Ministry Of Defence

United States Manaeuvres (Lessons)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence how many officers of each of the three Services were detailed to attend the United States "Flash Burn" manœuvres; and how soon the lessons of this operation will be available to British officers at battalion and regimental level.

Seven Army and three R.A.F. officers were present at the United States "Flash Burn" manœuvres. In addition, a few British officers from N.A.T.O. commands attended. The lessons of this exercise will be passed on to all those concerned as soon as possible.

Nato Countries (National Service)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence whether he will take action within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to press for the same period of National Service to be adopted by all members of the Organisation.

It is the view of Her Majesty's Government that the period of compulsory military service adopted by the various member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should be adequate to enable them to fulfil their obligations to that Organisation. It is for each member country to determine its actual period of compulsory service in the light of its financial and economic position and its commitments outside N.A.T.O.

British Army

Personal Case


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that Private Kenneth George Hendon, aged 19 years, of the Regimental Depot, Durham Light Infantry, Brancepeth, County Durham, volunteered for the Parachute Regiment and was refused, and that he also volunteered to join the Home Counties Regiment and was again refused; and, in view of the fact that this is not a satisfactory way of treating young men who are keen to give of their best for their country, if he will give the reason for such refusals.

This soldier was not up to the medical standard for the Parachute Regiment. His enlistment into the Durham Light Infantry was at his request.

Battle Hill Range (Accident)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the parents of the soldiers injured by an explosion at Battle Hill, Bowes, on 8th April were not notified until 48 hours after the occurrence, but that they first learned of it through the wireless; and what steps are being taken to ensure that parents are informed immediately such accidents occur.

Three of the soldiers injured in this accident were placed on the dangerously ill list on admission to hospital and their next-of-kin were notified immediately by telegram. The next-of-kin of four other soldiers who were not seriously injured were notified in the usual way by the hospital authorities by letter.None of the names was released to the Press by the War Office before confirmation that the next-of-kin had received their notifications, but a broadcast report, based on local information, gave the names of three of the soldiers, who were not seriously injured, before their next-of-kin got their letters.

Normally, whenever a soldier is dangerously or seriously ill, the precautions taken both by the War Office and the British Broadcasting Corporation ensure that his name is not released until the next-of-kin has been officially informed.


asked the Secretary of State for War if the inquiry has yet been held into the accident at Battle Hill, Bowes, on 8th April when one soldier was killed and six injured; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. A court of inquiry has been held into the circumstances of this most regrettable accident which occurred during the collection of expended rockets from the Battle Hill Range. I do not think that I ought at this stage to go into further details, since disciplinary action is now being considered.

Ta Non-Commissioned Officers


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is satisfied that there is no shortage of trained non-commissioned officers relative to other ranks in the infantry units of the Territorial Army and that such non-commissioned officers are competent to carry out the further training of two-year National Service men posted to their units in an efficient and useful manner.

Generally, the Regular permanent staff are up to strength. There is, however, a small shortage of Territorial Army warrant officers and sergeants and a somewhat greater shortage in the more junior ranks. The latter shortage is, however, in part deliberate while units are building up their strength. The competence of these instructors is, I think, shown by the general high standard of training in the Territorial Army infantry units.

asked the Secretary of State for War why National Service men who have attained non-commissioned rank during their service have to revert to the rank of private soldier on entering the Territorial Army; and what special steps he is taking to ensure that such soldiers are re-promoted and full use made of their abilities.

There is no practicable method of reserving in each Territorial Army unit the right number of vacancies for National Service non-commissioned officers who have completed their whole-time service. All National Service men are, however, eligible for promotion in the Territorial Army and my right hon. Friend is satisfied that commanding officers take full account of the qualifications which a man has obtained during whole-time service.

Disabled Soldiers (Treatment)


asked the Secretary of State for War his present practice in providing treatment for serving soldiers who develop disabilities which are considered likely to lead to their discharge.

Full medical care is provided up to the time of discharge, when details of the case are passed to the civil medical authorities so as to ensure continuity of treatment.

Suez Canal Troops (Potatoes)


asked the Secretary of State for War what price is being paid for potatoes supplied for the troops in the Suez Canal zone; and whether the Ministry of Food, which has a large surplus of sound potatoes being sold here at £4 a ton, were invited to tender.

It is not the practice to disclose the prices for particular contracts. The Ministry of Food were not invited to tender. We have to make regular provision for our needs some way ahead and, therefore, cannot always take advantage of a surplus which may arise later. In addition, owing to the risk of deterioration, it is very doubtful whether shipment from this country would be economical.

Troops (X-Ray Examination)

asked the Secretary of State for War at what intervals the personnel of the Army is given an X-Ray examination for possible tuberculosis.

Men are examined just before or soon after joining and, wherever possible, shortly before leaving the Army. During service in this country men are normally examined every three years, but more frequent investigation is made when circumstances appear to require it.

National Service Men (Ta Obligations)

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to ensure that National Service men, when entering the Territorial Army on completion of their two-year National Service, understand their further minimum obligations and the penalties they may suffer for non-compliance.

My right hon. Friend explained the arrangements in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) on 20th November, 1951. I am sending to the hon. Member a copy of the leaflet referred to in that reply.

Trade And Commerce

Pallion Trading Estate, Sunderland


asked the President of the Board of Trade how he proposes to expand the Pallion Trading Estate, Sunderland.

Land is still available on this estate, but we are negotiating to acquire more in connection with a particular project.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what projects for the development of the Pallion Trading Estate are at present being considered.

I can confirm that, as has been stated in the Press, discussions are proceeding with Edison Swann Limited. I hope these may result in the erection of a factory at Pallion.

Goods For Persia (Requisitioning Compensation)


asked the President of the Board of Trade why, in the current estimates, a sum of £325,000 has been provided in connection with compensation for requisitioning and delaying goods destined for Persia.

This sum is in respect of compensation for consignments of sugar and rail equipment which were requisitioned by the previous Government when the goods were on their way to Persia in September, 1951.

Industrial Expansion, Slough


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to ensure that increased employment will be available in Slough to meet the needs of the increased population of 17,000 expected on the new London County Council estates; his estimate of the increased employment in the borough during the next two years; in what industries he expects this increase to take place; and the estimated proportion in this increase as between men and women workers.

There are 1,794 unfilled vacancies in Slough, which is an area of labour shortage. Detailed estimates are not available of the increased employment to be expected in the next two years, but the expansion of industry is expected to approximate to the growth of population, including newcomers to the area.

East-West Trade


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now make a further statement on the position of East-West trade, arising out of the three-Power discussions in March.

My right hon. Friend will make a statement as soon as he is in a position to do so.

Home Department

Royal Commission On Capital Punishment


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now in a position to announce Her Majesty's Government's decision with reference to the Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 6th May to Questions by the hon. Members for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond).

Homes And Nurseries (Child Maintenance Cost)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the average annual cost incurred by the local authorities in maintaining a child in a children's home.

According to local authorities' revised estimates for 1953–54, the average annual estimated cost per child in residential homes and nurseries provided under the Children Act is £308 6s. 4d.

Shipbuilding (Orders)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that only 468,000 gross tons of new shipping were ordered in this country for the 12 months ended 31st March as against over 3,000,000 tons gross in 1952; and what steps are being taken to prevent a further deterioration in this industry.

I am aware of the fall in the tonnage of shipping ordered in the year ended 31st March, 1954. The hon. Member's figure of 3 million gross

£ million
YearReceipts from SalesChange in valuation of work in progressGross OutputPurchase of Feedingstuffs, Livestock, Seeds, etc.Net Output
Pre-war average (1936–39)291·8− 0·2291·690·2201·4
1952–53 (a)1,149·0+7·11,156·1240·0916·1
1953–54 (b)1,224·8+13·91,238·7302·0936·7
(a) Provisional (b) Forecast.
NOTE:The gross output of agriculture is normally defined as the sum of receipts from sales and the change (plus or minus) in the valuation of work in progress since the latter is a part of agricultural production even though sale occurs at a later date.

tons of new shipping ordered in 1952 is more than double the amount actually ordered in that year, although I accept it as a correct figure for the year ended 31st March, 1952.

Owing to the unprecedented amount of new tonnage ordered in 1951 and the early months of 1952, the shipbuilding industry has had an exceptionally long order book and it still has on order over 5 million gross tons of shipping representing more than two years' work.

It is too early yet to judge to what extent the benefits of the new investment allowance, proposed in his Budget by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will affect shipbuilding orders, but the situation will continue to be given close attention.

Agricultural Output (Value)

asked the Minister of Agriculture the money value of agricultural production in the United Kingdom for each of the past 15 years.