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Written Answers

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 13 May 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 13th May, 1954

National Service

Conscientious Objectors

4.

asked the Minister of Labour what reply he has sent to the Leeds Free Church Federal Council following the resolution sent to him calling attention to the fact that no provision is made in the National Service Act for men who genuinely acquire pacifist views during or after their National Service to register as conscientious objectors to any further service.

The Council were referred to the debates in this House and in another place on 23rd July, 1953, and on 9th February, 1954, respectively, when this question was fully discussed.

Coalminers

asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the need for more manpower in the coalmining industry, he will consult the Service Ministers with a view to arranging the release from the Services of men who have had experience of working underground and who are prepared to return to the coal industry.

No. In view of the needs of the Armed Forces for their trained men, a further scheme of release for return to the mines would not be practicable.

Wages (Time Rates)

asked the Minister of Labour if he will set out in tabular form the average time rates of wages paid in engineering, agriculture, local authority employment, potteries, building, mining and the railways, for skilled and general workers, separately, for the years 1914, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1945, 1953, respectively, and on the latest possible date, and showing by reference to the 1914 index number how these rates have fluctuated for each year.

I am having the available information extracted and will write to the hon. Member.

Ministry Of Health

Tuberculosis Treatment, South Wales

9.

asked the Minister of Health the number of people waiting for admission to tuberculosis sanatoria in South Wales.

10.

asked the Minister of Health the number of beds in South Wales sanatoria that cannot be used due to shortage of nursing staff.

11.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the decision to close a ward of 22 beds at the Glan Ely Tuberculosis Hospital, Cardiff, because of lack of staff; and, in view of the long list of people suffering from tuberculosis and awaiting admission to this hospital, what emergency action he proposes to take.

I understand that it is hoped that this closure will only be temporary, and that everything possible is being done to obtain the necessary staff.

Cheap Milk

13.

asked the Minister of Health if he will arrange for priority milk coupons to be made available to old-age pensioners and other persons for whom a milk diet has been prescribed under the National Health Service.

My right hon. Friend assumes that this refers to a system for providing cheap milk. He does not think such arrangements are called for in the cases mentioned as part of the National Health Service.

Chiropodists

asked the Minister of Health if he will introduce legislation to make licensing of chiropodists compulsory in all areas, in the interests of the public and so as to ensure uniformity between one local authority and another.

I am not satisfied that this is the best solution of the problem my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind, but, as he will know, the possibility of statutory registration is being studied at the moment.

Sanitary Inspectors (Recruitment)

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the shortage of sanitary inspectors throughout Great Britain; whether he will state the number of additional sanitary inspectors that would be needed to enable all local authorities to employ their full quota; how many extra sanitary inspectors he estimates will be needed to carry out the additional work proposed in the Housing Rents and Repairs Bill; and what action he is taking to increase the number of sanitary inspectors.

Yes. The working party on the recruitment, training and qualifications of sanitary inspectors estimated that in England and Wales 200 new inspectors ought to qualify annually for the next five years. It is not clear that the legislation referred to in the third part of the Question would increase this number. My right hon. Friend is about to open discussions with the interested bodies with a view to implementing the recommendations of the working party many of which are directed towards improved recruitment.

Inoculations (Litigation)

asked the Minister of Health how many cases in the last five years have been brought up in the courts against National Health Service hospitals or doctors by parents of children whose health has been impaired by inoculation for diphtheria and whooping cough; and how many were successful.

Trade And Commerce

Resale Price Maintenance

33.

asked the President of the Board of Trade on what date he anticipates a report from the Monopolies Commission on resale price maintenance, under Section 15 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948, will be available.

The only aspect of resale price maintenance covered by the Commission's Section 15 inquiry is its collective enforcement. The inquiry embraces many other collective arrangements; it is a large and complicated one, and I cannot yet say when it is likely to be completed.

Grain Imports

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the heavy imports of grain in 1953, he will take steps to control such imports, so that the deliveries to the market of imported and home-grown grain at the peak delivery period may be co-ordinated.

No. Unless our balance of payments situation made it necessary, the re-imposition of licensing restrictions on grain imports would not be justifiable.

Agriculture

Land Drainage Report (Consultations)

37.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has now completed his consultations in connection with the Report of the Land Drainage Legislative Sub-Committee of the Central Advisory Water Committee, the Heneage Report; and if he will make a statement.

Initial consultations have recently been completed, but further discussions may be necessary. In view of the nature and importance of some of the issues involved, I do not expect to be in a position to make a statement for some time.

Hedgerows And Trees (Soil Erosion)

40.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the destruction of hedgerows and trees in many counties during the past few years is causing the loss of top soil since such hedges helped to break the force of the wind; and whether he will take action to see that more care is taken.

I have no evidence that the destruction of hedgerows and trees in recent years has caused the loss of top soil, but my advisory services are well aware of the desirability of providing shelter in certain parts of the country to prevent the blowing of top soil. I shall consider anything which the Committee on Hedgerow and Farm Timber may say on this subject in their Report.

Agricultural Co-Operation (Report)

41.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether Mr. Mehren. who came to this country in 1952 at the request of Her Majesty's Government to inquire into the operation of agricultural co-operative societies and the methods of distributing agricultural produce and requisities, generally, has yet made a report to him; and when he will publish it.

Dr. Mehren's Report was received in February, 1953. The inquiry was concerned solely with agricultural co-operation. The Report was made confidentially to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself, and we do not propose to publish it.

Fatstock Marketing Scheme

asked the Minister of Agriculture when copies of the Fatstock Marketing Scheme will be available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Copies of the draft Fatstock Marketing Scheme in its final form will be available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office when the draft Scheme is laid before Parliament. Copies of the draft Scheme in its present form can be obtained from the promoters.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the introduction of the Fatstock Marketing Scheme, gazetted on 26th March, conflicts with the Government policy of agriculture marketing as published in White Paper 8989, which states that the only practical course is to restore private trade; and whether he will state his policy in this connection.

No. As my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food has already informed the House, private trade in home-produced meat and fatstock will be restored as from the beginning of July. The White Paper to which my hon. Friend refers clearly envisaged that a producers' marketing scheme might be promoted in these circumstances and stated the Government's readiness to give every facility for a suitable scheme.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is satisfied that the present promoters submitting the Fat-stock Marketing Scheme are substantially representative of the farmers.

Sheep (Guaranteed Payments)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will consider fixing a maximum weight of 90 lb. rather than 80 lb. at the next Price Review for sheep eligible for the deficiency payment.

The limit to the estimated carcase weight on which guarantee payments for sheep will be made in 1954–55 is 76 lb. for lambs and hoggets and 86 lb. for other clean sheep. Lambs, hoggets and sheep over these weights are eligible for payments, but the payment will not exceed that payable on animals of those weights. The weights will be reconsidered at the Annual Review in 1955 in the light of experience after decontrol.

Wood Pigeons (Destruction)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if, in order to reduce the wood pigeon pest, he will consider making a payment in respect of each pair of wild pigeon's feet delivered to his Department, as is being done already in the case of squirrels' tails.

This suggestion has practical disadvantages. It has been considered by my Land Pests Advisory Committee and their advice, which I am accepting, is that the present scheme under which half price cartridges are made available for the shooting of wood pigeons is working satisfactorily and is to be preferred.

Milk Production (Efficiency)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is satisfied that the taxpayer is getting full value for the subsidies for the production of milk in view of particulars which have been sent him.

Yes. But there is undoubtedly room for a further increase in the efficiency of milk production and reduction of costs on many farms, and it is the constant endeavour of the Government, in co-operation with the Milk Marketing Boards, to bring this about. Positive measures include the provision of advisory services, the disease eradication policy, the licensing of bulls and the encouragement of milk recording and artificial insemination. As set out in the Annual Review White Paper, 1954, which announced a reduction of 1d, a gallon in the guaranteed price of milk, the Government include among the primary objectives of the industry a steady reduction in costs and in the liability falling upon the taxpayer.

Home Department

Jury Service (Loss Of Earnings)

55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that workmen are frequently called to sit as jurymen on cases which last for several days and that the payment they receive is less than the wages which they have lost through absence from employment; and if he will consider taking steps to alter the law so that a workman will receive the loss sustained, or a higher maximum payment than that allowed at present.

The compensation for loss of earnings payable to jurors is limited by Section 1 (1) of the Juries Act, 1949, to a maximum of 20s. a day. The Juries Bill at present before Parliament proposes to remove this statutory limit and to leave it to the discretion of the Home Secretary, with the consent of the Treasury, to prescribe the rates of compensation by Statutory Instrument. My right hon. and learned Friend cannot make any further statement at present.

Obscene Books

56.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to prevent further publication, sale, and distribution of obscene books which disclose the names and addresses of the publishers.

My right hon. and learned Friend is satisfied that the prosecuting authorities are fully aware of the importance of suppressing the traffic in obscene books at the source and he does not think any action is called for on his part.

Poisons List (Calomel)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, having consulted the Poisons Board, he is now in a position to reply to the suggestion that Calomel be put on Schedule 1 of the Poisons List.

Yes. The Poisons Board has advised against controlling the sale of calomel under the Poisons Law.

Television Sets (Servicing)

57.

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will seek powers to supervise or control the activities of firms purporting to maintain and service television sets in order to discourage the activities of firms whose technical resources are unequal to fulfilling the promises they make.

Cranwell College (Entrants)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many cadets were accepted for Cranwell in the last entry; how many vacancies there were; and how many of those accepted came from Scottish schools.

Education

Special Schools (Admissions)

asked the Minister of Education how many pupils were awaiting admission to special schools in December, 1953; and how many of these pupils were educationally sub-normal.

Returns received from local education authorities show that in December, 1953, there were 19,861 handicapped children awaiting vacancies in special schools, of whom 12,794 were educationally sub-normal.

School Building

asked the Minister of Education how many primary and secondary schools were under construction at the latest date for which figures are available; and how these figures compare with those of a year and two years ago, respectively.

The numbers of primary schools under construction in England and Wales on 1st February in the years 1952, 1953, and 1954 were 868, 665 and 533, respectively. The corresponding figures for secondary schools were 279, 321 and 353, respectively.

Crematoria Schemes

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he has any further information available in connection with schemes for crematoria now awaiting his consideration; and, in particular, in connection with the joint scheme which concerns Ruislip, Northwood and Uxbridge, which is waiting for his approval.

I am now prepared to approve the construction of new crematoria in certain cases in areas where the needs are most urgent. I shall be communicating with the local authorities concerned shortly in regard to the joint scheme for Ruislip—Northwood and Uxbridge.

Ministry Of Food

Wheat And Rye (Deficiency Payments)

asked the Minister of Food if he will publish a statement explaining to the farmers the possible effects upon their deficiency payments of the provision that the operative date for the certification of wheat shall be the date of despatch on delivery from the farm and not the date of sale.

An explanatory leaflet dealing with this and other aspects of the deficiency payment arrangements for wheat and rye will be sent early in July to all registered growers of these crops.

Bulk Purchase And Long-Term Agreements

asked the Minister of Food what bulk purchase or long-term agreements affect the procurement of foodstuffs.

The information is as follows:

STATEMENT OF BULK PURCHASE OR LONG-TERM AGREEMENTS AFFECTING THE PROCUREMENT OF FOODSTUFFS—i.e. AGREEMENTS PROVIDING FOR GOVERNMENT PURCHASE AND COVERING INITIALLY A PERIOD OF TWO YEARS OR MORE
CommodityCountryTerminal date
BaconDenmark29. 9.56
Holland29. 9.56
Kenya31.12.54
Irish Republic30. 4.56
CoffeeJamaica31. 8.54
Uganda30. 6.54
Kenya30. 6.54
Tanganyika30. 6.54
Gold Coast31. 7.54
MeatNew Zealand30. 9.67*
Australia30. 9.67*
Argentina30. 6.54
Uruguay30. 6.54
Irish Republic28. 6.56
Milk ProductsNew Zealand:
Butter and Cheese31. 7.55
Evaporated Milk31. 7.54
Milk Powder31. 7.55
Australia:
Butter and Cheese30. 6.55
Denmark:
Butter30. 9.55
Oils and FatsFiji31.12.57
Nigeria30. 6.54
Gold Coast30. 6.54
Sierra Leone30. 6.54
Gambia30. 6.54
Australia31.12.57
New Zealand31.12.57
Tokelau Islands31.12.57
Cook Islands31.12.57
Niue31.12.57
Tonga31.12.57
Solomon Islands31.12.57
Gilbert and Ellice Islands31.12.57
Concentrated Orange JuiceBritish West IndiesEnd of crop year 1959–60
SugarAustralia, South Africa and the Sugar Producing Colonies31.12.61
*An undertaking has been given that the United Kingdom Government will buy or permit the sale in the United Kingdom market of Australian and New Zealand beef, veal, lamb and mutton and edible offal without restriction of quantity for a period of 15 years from 15th October, 1952.

Officers (Retired Pay)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence the maximum amounts of retired pay that officers who retired under the 1919 Code would now be receiving if their rates, which were subject to variation upwards or downwards with the cost of living to an extent not exceeding 20 per cent, had not been stabilised in 1935, disregarding any subsequent increases or re-assessment, giving the amount for each rank from captain to general.

An increase of 20 per cent, on the rates of retired pay under the 1919 Code would, if awarded, have resulted in maximum rates for each rank as follows:

Rank1919 rates1919 rates plus 20 per cent.
££
Captain300360
Major450540
Lieutenant-Colonel600720
Colonel800960
Major-General1,0001,200
Lieutenant-General1,2001,440
General1,4001,680