Public Records (Transfer)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to have brought into Scottish custody in Scotland such Scottish national archives and records as are at present outside Scotland.
Under Section 4 of the Public Records (Scotland) Act, 1937, nine major documents relating to Scotland which had been kept in the Public Record Office were in that year transferred to the Scottish Record Office. The transfer of other Scottish records in the Public Record Office was effected under Section 5 (1) of the Act in 1949 and 1950, with the consent of the Master of the Rolls. No further transfer is contemplated at the present time.
Is the Minister aware that the poets, historians, and other literati of Scotland require access to many of these archives, which are not now available, and these should now be made available to them in Scotland? What steps is he taking to that desirable end?
Those documents which are manifestly English documents are there. All documents are readily available, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows.
West Green Mental Hospital
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the proper complement of doctors at West Green Mental Hospital where there are over 600 patients; and the present number of doctors at the hospital.
Until recently the establishment of medical staff consisted of a whole-time consultant as medical superintendent, two junior hospital medical officers and three house officers. One of the junior hospital medical officer posts and the three house officer posts are vacant. The very general shortage of house officers has so far prevented the board from filling the three vacant posts in that grade. But it is taking steps to appoint a second consultant as deputy medical superintendent in place of the second junior hospital medical officer.
While I realise that there is a shortage of doctors and especially of consultants, may I ask whether my right hon. and gallant Friend realises that the medical superintendent did not have a clear holiday last year because of the shortage of medical staff? Will he see that arrangements are made for the medical superintendent to have a proper clear holiday this year?
I am sure that the regional hospital board will pay attention to what my hon. and gallant Friend has said.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the proper complement of nurses for West Green Mental Hospital; and the present number of whole-time and part-time nurses, respectively.
The female nursing staff of all grades consists of 23 whole-time and 47 part-time, and the male staff of 77, all whole-time. The hospital reports vacancies for some 48 female staff, including 39 qualified nurses, and 17 male staff, including five qualified nurses.
Can my right hon. and gallant Friend now announce the decision of the Whitley Council as to whether it accepts the arbiter's award, which once more gives the lead which was abolished by the last Government, and thus encourages student nurses to take up mental nursing?
Over the three years' period of training, the arbitration award gives the student mental nurses £175 more in pay and allowances than general student nurses. The situation regarding the Whitley Council is that the management side has accepted. The staff side has informally accepted but desires discussion on certain points.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that there is no proper admission block at West Green Mental Hospital; and whether he will instruct the Eastern Regional Hospital Board to reorganise the ward so as to make one.
Yes, Sir. But plans are in preparation for the development and improvement of this hospital. The first stage is the adaptation of existing accommodation to provide one admission ward for each sex, and that work is due to begin this year.
Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that a great deal of activity has been stimulated since my Question was put on the Order Paper? Will he stimulate the Eastern Regional Hospital Board to get on with the job?
Deer Poaching (Committee)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he in tends to proceed with the Deer Poaching (Scotland) Bill.
My right hon. Friend has not yet received the report of the committee which was set up to inquire into the question of a close season for deer in Scotland.
As the committee was appointed two years ago, in July, 1952, is it not a scandal that nothing has been done in the meantime? Is my hon. Friend aware that hinds that are due to calve in the next week or fortnight are being shot by poachers and the calf is being cut out and thrown away? When will the Government take steps to bring in legislation to stop this sort of thing?
I am aware of these distressing circumstances, but my hon. Friend will be glad to know that the committee has now completed its evidence and we expect its report before the end of the Session.
Does it deal with deer poaching on the farmer's ground, or with somebody poaching on the deer?
Is it not the case, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ton-bridge (Mr. G. Williams) has pointed out, that this annual slaughter of the hinds is becoming a very serious matter? In the view of many of my constituents, the Bill is much overdue, and I urge my hon. Friend to take steps to bring it in.
I agree with my hon. Friend, but, obviously, we cannot proceed until we have the report of the committee, which should be with us now quite soon.
If there are to be priorities for suggested legislation, what preference is to be given to the Teachers' (Superannuation) Bill and other suggested Measures? Will that Bill have precedence over deer-poaching legislation?
Old Persons (Mental Hospitals)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how far it is the practice, when there is a shortage of beds in general hospitals, for old persons to be given accommodation in mental hospitals; and to what extent they are required to be certified on refusing, in these circumstances, to enter voluntarily.
My right hon. Friend is not aware of any such practice. Some forms of senile mental illness can be cared for properly only in a mental hospital; and where admission as a voluntary patient is not accepted, certification may be the only way of securing that the patient gets the care and treatment which he needs.
Is the Under-Secretary aware that there is a widespread belief in and around the industrial areas that old people are being put into mental hospitals are given beds there because there are insufficient beds in general hospitals, and that when old people protest and do not go voluntarily they are certified? Will he look into this matter a little more closely?
If the hon. Lady will be good enough to give me any particulars. I shall be glad to look into them.
Would it not be far more economical to utilise hospitals and big old houses that have passed out of use to accommodate the old people?
I do not think they would be altogether suitable.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if it is now permissible under his regulations to certify elderly patients entering mental institutions as suffering from mental senility; and how far deviation from the words laid down by statute is permitted.
The conditions to be met before a person can be certified are laid down by statute, as also are the terms in which the relative certificates must be given. There is no power to permit any deviation, such as that suggested by the hon. Lady, from the terms and conditions laid down by statute.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that it will give satisfaction to know that there is no deviation, because many people are being fobbed off with the excuse that a deviation is permitted? Now we have the Joint Under-Secretary's affirmation that that is not so. Is he aware that the statute permits these old people to be certified only either as lunatics or as imbeciles, and as this position is grossly unfair, will he not give attention to amending the Act?
As my right hon. Friend announced recently, a White Paper dealing with this matter is probably to be expected within a reasonable time.
I am aware of that, but the terms of reference make no mention whatever to old people who are merely senile being stigmatised by certification as imbeciles. Could the terms of reference be extended to cover them also?
The hon. Lady should await the White Paper, which may deal with that matter.
House Of Lords (Appellate Jurisdiction)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will consider introducing legislation to abolish the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords over cases from Scotland.
Since the answer is an emphatic "No," can the Joint Undersecretary say by what statute the Appellate Court overturned a decision of the Lord President of the Court of Session, who had based his decision on the generally accepted dictum that once a disposition of land has been made it cannot in any way be altered at a later date?
I could not answer that technical question without notice.
As I have already tried to get this information by other means than a Question in the House, as I usually do, and as I have been told that a decision taken in the House of Lords is almost sacred and that nothing can be done to alter it, I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will give me this information as soon as possible.
Does the Minister realise that the present system involves litigants in delay, uncertainty and expense, which could easily be obviated by making the Scottish Supreme Court supreme in Scotland? Will he consult the Lord Advocate with a view to adopting this course?
I remind the hon. and learned Member and the hon. Lady that both the Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland made it clear in their published evidence to the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs that they were against this proposal.
What legal appeal does not cost a great deal, whether in Scotland or in England?
Group Medical Practices (Loan Applications)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications have been received from practitioners for an interest-free loan to establish group practices; and from which districts in Scotland they have originated.
Applications have been received from 18 groups of doctors in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayrshire, Fife, Lanarkshire, the Lothians and Stirlingshire.
How soon does the Joint Under-Secretary of State expect a reply to be given in these cases? As he has had so many applications in such a short time—I am glad that is so—does he think that this miserable £100,000 will be sufficient to meet all the cases?
These cases will have to be gone into before it can be decided which groups should get the first sums available. It may take some little time before a final decision is made.
House Purchase (Committee Report)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will circulate to Scottish Members of Parliament the Re port and recommendations of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee which, under the chairmanship of Sir George Laidlaw, was appointed to consider and report on house purchase in Scotland.
Further copies of this Report, which was published in 1946 as a Command Paper, are now available in the Vote Office.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this Committee sat over a good number of months and that its Report will be very valuable to hon. Members, especially in view of the legislation we are promised in regard to facilitating house purchase?
Hon. Members will now be able to get the Report in the Vote Office.
Rabbit-Gassing Machine (Demonstration)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement regarding a large-scale test of rabbit-gassing which officers of his Department attended in the east of Scotland recently; and whether he is in a position to pass on any lessons as the result of this experiment.
Officials of my right hon. Friend's Department recently attended a commercially-sponsored demonstration of a power gassing machine. They have reported favourably on the machine. The Department has for some years recommended gassing as a cheap and efficient method of destroying rabbits, and in future it will draw attention to the availability of power machines, which are in some locations more effective than the older techniques.
Can my hon. Friend give the House any idea of the cost of this gassing experiment? My impression is that it is very expensive. Could he consider making a grant towards the cost, under the Hill Farming Act or in some such way?
I am afraid I cannot give a figure in regard to the cost of the experiment, but the cost of the actual machine is about £75—which might be considered to be rather high.
How many rabbits are now again in the land which was the subject of the experiment?
Can the Joint Undersecretary say what is the exact scope of this machine; what area it can cover, and whether its range has extended to the Government Front Bench?
Orrin Hydro-Electric Project
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the anticipated load factor of the hydro-electric works embodied in the Orrin project No. 29 constructional scheme, installed capacity 18 megawatts, referred to in the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board (Constructional Scheme No. 29) Confirmation Order, 1954; and the anticipated coal economy equivalent based on that load factor and a conversion rate of 1.31 lb. of coal per unit of electricity generated, generally in accord with the average efficiency of British Electricity Authority power stations.
My right hon. Friend is informed by the Board that the expected load factor of hydro-electric works embodied in the Orrin project is approximately 48 per cent., and that the expected saving in coal at a conversion figure of 1.31 lb. of coal per unit of electricity generated is about 45.000 tons annually.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the cost, £/per megawatt installed respectively, including and excluding capital costs in respect of distribution facilities for the 18 mega watts installed capacity of the hydro electric works embodied in the Orrin project No. 29 constructional scheme, referred to in the North of Scotland Hydro- Electric Board (Constructional Scheme No. 29) Confirmation Order. 1954.
The capital cost per megawatt to be installed in the Orrin project, based on the estimates submitted to Parliament, is about £252,000. My right hon. Friend is informed by the Board that if the cost of transmitting the power to the Board's grid is added this figure will be increased to about £258,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the anticipated dates of commencement and completion for the hydro-electric works embodied in the Orrin project No. 29 constructional scheme referred to in the North of Scot land Hydro-Electric Board (Constructional Scheme No. 29) Confirmation Order, 1954; and what independent advice, as to the soundness of the Orrin project or otherwise, he has taken from bodies and persons other than those employed by, or contracting to, the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.
The Board hopes to start preliminary works in connection with the scheme this year and the main works next year, and to produce electricity from it by 1960. The scheme was approved by the British Electricity Authority, which indicated that, on the information submitted by the Board, it appeared to it to be a sound technical scheme.
Can the Minister tell us if the load carried by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board is anything like so heavy as the load carried by the electors of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)?
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of Section 5 pay-beds were unoccupied in the hospitals under his direction during each of the last three years.
Figures are at present available only for the year ended 31st March, 1953, during which, on the average, less than a quarter of the Section 5 pay-beds were unoccupied.
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say whether steps are taken, at regular intervals, to review the proportion of these beds, so that the best use can be made of them for those on the general waiting list?
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many Section 5 pay-beds there are in all hospitals under his direction; and what percentage they constitute of the total.
There are 913 such beds in Scottish National Health Service hospitals, or 1½ per cent, of all staffed beds.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that patients on the ordinary list who are awaiting admission to hospital have to wait about six months, but if they are prepared to pay 11s. per day they can be accommodated immediately? If I send the Joint Undersecretary particulars of a case in my constituency will he look into it?
I can tell the hon. Member that the percentage occupancy of these beds is considered to be very high. It is about 75 per cent., as against 83½ per cent, for all the beds in hospitals. That is considered to be quite a high percentage, in view of the fact that there are so few of these beds, and that they are scattered all over the country.
Is not it the policy of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department to use these beds for non-paying patients when they are not being occupied by paying patients?
Crofters Commission Report
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he proposes to take the first steps to implement the Crofters Commission Report.
My right hon. Friend is not in a position to make any further statement about the Report at present. The Highlands Advisory Panel will be considering it this week, and my right hon. Friend will consider the next steps to be taken when he has its views.
Is the Minister aware that there are many things in that report which the Highlands Advisory Panel and other bodies concerned in the Highlands have been urging for many years, some of which do not need legislation? Cannot he hold out some hope that some of these matters will be dealt with in the near future?
In a matter of this importance it is advisable to have the views of the Highlands Advisory Panel. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already accepted the main recommendation of the Report and is taking steps to implement this.
In the meantime, will my hon. Friend's Department neglect no opportunity which might arise for land settlement, which was clearly pointed to in the Report?
Is the Minister aware that this is one of the most difficult problems in agriculture, and will he arrange to take no definite steps until there has been time to discuss the matter, either in the Scottish Grand Committee or in the House?
Small Lobster Fishermen (Protection)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the decrease of people engaged in lobster creel fishing in recent years, he will take steps to afford protection to the small lobster fishermen.
The decrease in the number of creel fishermen in recent years may be due to a variety of causes, including the availability of other more remunerative employment. My right hon. Friend has no evidence that special measures for the protection of the small lobster fishermen are necessary.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the small lobster fisherman is an integral part of Highland life? Does not he think that proper control is advisable, particularly over the size of the vessel employed?
I agree that these men form a very important element in Highland life, but it is not very easy to know what protective measures can reasonably be taken.
Has my hon. Friend gone into the question I raised a few days ago, in connection with the subsidised lobster fishery in that part of the country, which is a great failure?
Island Agricultural Producers (Financial Aid)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how he proposes to assist the island farmers in the Western Highlands to help them overcome the disadvantages in which they will find themselves in regard to marketing arrangements following decontrol.
I would draw my noble Friend's attention to the answer given by my right hon. Friend on this subject to my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Argyll (Major McCallum) on Wednesday, 12th May, 1954.
Yes, but is my hon. Friend aware that I want further elaboration of that answer, and will he bear in mind all the time that, while the land is often quite good in the Western Islands, a farmer there is always at a disadvantage because of freight rates?
It is impossible to define at this stage the precise methods of applying this assistance, because we must have some experience of decontrol in order to find the most satisfactory method.
South-East Asia (Defence)
asked the Prime Minister if an international meeting has yet been held for the purpose of promoting a security organisation in and for Eastern Asia; where, and when, it was held; what nations were represented at it; what was the result; and when the next such meeting will be held.
I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the statement I made in the House yesterday, and to which I have nothing to add.
I thank the Prime Minister for the statement he made in the House yesterday, but will he bear in mind that if he is assisting or promoting any such Far Eastern conference to deal either with the bringing about of peace or the problems arising as an aftermath of peace, he should see that the democratic Asiatic countries are invited to take part in it?
All these matters and other relevant incidents will be carefully borne in mind.
Atomic Energy (Us-Uk Agreement)
asked the Prime Minister whether he is yet in a position to say what were the considerations for the then Government's surrender, in 1948, of this country's right of veto on the United States of America's unilateral use of the atomic bomb.
As I was not a Member of that Administration I fear I might not be qualified to do full justice to their case.
May I ask the Prime Minister if it is a matter of fact, and if he is not aware, that there was no such surrender, and that the position with regard to the atomic bomb rested first of all on an agreement made by the Prime Minister with President Roosevelt, and an agreement subsequently made by myself with President Truman? May I ask him further whether, in view of what he said the other week about the need for confidential talks between Governments and the inadvisability of discussing them, it would not be well if the Motion on the Paper in the name of his hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Sir C. Taylor) was withdrawn?
[ To call attention to certain agreements governing the control of atomic weapons; and to move a Resolution.]
I am afraid that I do not control the rights of hon. Members to put Motions on the Paper. So far as I am concerned, I confine myself to defending and vindicating the actions of my own Government, the Government of which I was the head, and actions which I was personally responsible for, and I had not desired myself to embark upon a process of attacking continually other Administrations.
Whether the action in question is called a surrender or a loss— and I have no wish to enter into a dispute with the Leader of the Opposition on that —is the Prime Minister not aware that, rightly or wrongly, a widespread impression now exists on both sides of the Atlantic that the inducement for the loss of this right of veto was, in fact, increased financial aid; and if this is so, are we not at least entitled in this House to know the price in dollars of the sell-out?
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is not aware that in the case of any requests for the publication of documents, one would only get a very partial view of the whole of these proceedings? What the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. F. M. Bennett) has suggested is entirely untrue. A full discussion of this question would mean that one would have to go into confidential talks over a period and, like the right hon. Gentleman, I am prepared to defend the actions of my Government and also of the Government of which he and I were both Members.
I am entirely in the hands of the House. I am not myself pressing this Motion. Of course, circumstances change: what was valid in a moment of war, and so on, would not necessarily be valid otherwise. But I wish to make it quite clear that I have confined myself to defending what I was responsible for and the position as we left it, and that it was only because we found ourselves reproached with having, so to speak, no power to interfere or intervene in the developments of the new bomb, that, in order to defend oneself from very serious charges which were moving in the country, I referred to this matter at all.
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of what he has now said and what he has said previously, it would not be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances if he deprecated the misrepresentation implied by his hon. Friend?
Both in that last question and the preceding one from the Leader of the Opposition, the suggestion was made that what I had said was untrue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, if that is so—in which case I am quite willing to withdraw—surely the best way is for the Leader of the Opposition to ask for the documents in question to be published, as the Prime Minister recently offered?
I do not think that there is any point of order in that. The word "untrue" does not necessarily mean that what is referred to was untrue by design. It is a word that is often used here, and without offence. I do not think any point of order arises in the matter.
National Service (Period)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence if, in view of the relaxation in world tension, he will reduce the period of National Service to 12 months.
I am sorry that the Minister has not given an affirmative answer this time, but is he not aware that European countries, and also the Australian Government, have reduced the period of conscription recently, and surely it is time that this Government gave serious consideration to a considerable cut in the period of National Service?
I have previously assured the hon. Gentleman that if he asked me a question susceptible to an affirmative answer, I should be glad to give it, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister dealt with this question on 11th May, and I would refer the hon. Gentleman to what he said then.
Whilst appreciating the difficulty of reducing the period of National Service with present commitments, would not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that this is an additional reason for re-opening conversations with the Egyptian Government for the settlement in respect of the Canal Zone, which would really open the way to a reduction in the period of National Service?
That is rather a different question.
asked the Secretary of State for War why 22815879 Boy Hands, Infantry Boys' Battalion, Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, is having to do his detention in Colchester Military Prison; and if he will arrange to have separate detention barracks for boys.
Army boys are not sent to prisons and are only sent exceptionally, after a sentence by court-martial, to a military corrective establishment such as Colchester. Boys at Colchester are segregated and are specially treated.
Does the hon. Gentleman think that the "glasshouse" in Colchester is the right place for boys of 16 years of age? Is it not possible to have a separate detention barracks because, whilst I know that some of these boys commit offences, nevertheless they should not be put amongst men, and I should have thought that it would be in the interests of the parents of the boys to know that this is not the case in the "glasshouse" in Colchester or in any other place?
Boys under detention at Colchester are segregated, living in a separate room and messing at a separate table in the dining hall. At present there are only four of them at Colchester. Their room is close to the company office and they are specially watched by the company commander by day and by the N.C.O. in charge of the company watch by night. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that too close contact is undesirable, but he will probably agree that these arrangements avoid contact.
Are they exercised with the adult prisoners, and do they undergo the same punishment with the adult men prisoners?
They do one period of physical training and one period of drill daily, and the remainder of the day is devoted to education. They are separated in these activities.
Territorial Army (Out-Of-Camp Training)
asked the Secretary of State for War how many morning ceremonial parades for civic authorities or week-end attendances on firing-ranges would have to be carried out over three years by a National Service soldier in the Territorial Army to fulfil his statutory obligation of 15 days' out-of-camp training.
A National Service soldier in the Territorial Army carries out his 15 days' out-of-camp training by attending week-end camps or by single days of training or by hourly periods of instruction, four such periods counting as a day's training. Attendances at the rare ceremonial parades or for week-end firing count towards his obligation according to the time involved.
Whilst thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for that answer, may I ask if he is aware that in the little leaflet he sent me, entitled "Your Service in the Territorial Army," which is issued to all National Service men on finishing their two years' service and going into the Territorial Army, the information he has given me is not included, and would he consider including it in future?
I will look into that. I have not the pamphlet in front of me, but I should expect it to contain what I have said.
Could the hon. Gentleman say whether the ceremonial morning parades are compulsory?
I should like to have an example of ceremonial parades because, to my knowledge, they are extremely rare, and I should like to look into any example which the right hon. Gentleman can give me, because I believe they are also not compulsory.
Hospital Cases (Information To Next Of Kin)
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the perfunctory way in which, on the admission of a soldier to hospital, the next of kin are informed of the nature of the soldier's illness; and whether he will issue instructions to all those authorised to sign hospital redirection cards, Army Form A.2042A, to ensure that the nature of the soldier's illness or wounds is more clearly defined and the next of kin saved from undue anxiety.
Whenever a soldier is admitted to hospital as a battle casualty or suffering from a serious illness or injury his next of kin is informed by telegram followed by a letter. Great care is taken in the wording of these communications so as to give full and accurate information. In other cases it is, I think rightly, left to the man himself to decide whether to let his family know of his admission to hospital either by letter or by this special form, which is primarily a notification of his new postal address.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have in my possession an Army form A.2042A, which was sent in respect of a lad in the Middle East, which bears the information to the boy's parents that he has been admitted to hospital with multiple injuries? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the anxiety that was caused to those parents when it took four days to receive a reply, by prepaid telegram, from the War Office which stated:
Surely more details could be supplied to parents when a soldier is injured. Will the Minister see that the form is altered so as to provide the fullest details?"When we hear what has happened to the boy we will let you know."
I think that it will be generally agreed that it is right to leave to a man, unless he is seriously or dangerously ill, the decision as to what he should tell his parents. He may not want to tell them that he is in hospital, so as to avoid causing them anxiety. I have not seen the form which the hon. Member has quoted. I should like to look into the matter, but I imagine that the soldier himself filled in the form.
No, it was not in the soldier's handwriting. It was in the sister's handwriting.
Us Manoeuvres (British Army Observers)
asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the seven British Army officers who attended the United States Flash Burn manoeuvres have now returned to Europe in order to give a first-hand eye-witness account to British officers at regimental and battalion level.
The one Army officer who went from this country has returned and is preparing a report.
Will my hon. Friend see that this Army officer does not merely prepare a report which may be the foundation of a paper issued several months hence but, on the contrary, that he gives first-hand eye-witness lectures, because that is the best way to teach these things?
I should like to think about that, but it would be a little difficult, would it not, to ask one officer to give eye-witness lectures to the whole of the British Army. Somehow or other this information must be put out in writing as well
Is it not a fact that seven officers from the British Army were invited to attend? Why could not more than one come back to this country?
The others are members of the British Army staff in Washington. It is best to wait and see what is contained in the reports provided by this officer and other observers and consider then what more we can do.
Trade And Commerce
Light Industry, Stirling
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the intended closing of the British-American Tobacco Company's factory in Stirling; whether he is also aware that this will intensify the already existing need for light industry in the Stirling area; and what steps he intends to take.
Yes, Sir. I am aware that further industrial employment would be welcomed in the area, and the Board of Trade will be prepared to consider the issue of industrial development certificates in appropriate cases.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this is another case of a firm with headquarters in England closing down the Scottish end of its production? Will he take that into account in the policies which he and his Department carry out?
I think that in this case both the union concerned and the Stirling Town Council have accepted the decision as inevitable on economic grounds.
New Industries, Falkirk
asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to attract new industries to the Falkirk area, in view of the recession in the ironfounding industry.
The Board of Trade recognise the need of the Falkirk area for new industry and will continue to encourage suitable enterprises to establish themselves there.
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman recall that a year ago one of his colleagues in the Government put very emphatically the point which he is now putting that the area needs diversification of industry? Will he say what has been done in that respect in the course of that year?
The hon. Member is aware that Falkirk cannot be considered apart from Grangemouth and Bonny-bridge, and that there have been considerable developments there.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that industry in Falkirk is mainly one of supplying goods for fuel consumption, such as modern grates? Would he not ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he would not make the introduction of fuel saving appliances free from Purchase Tax so that there might be some encouragement to this industry, and a saving in fuel?
As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, that is a totally different question.
Is it not the case that there is now no restriction on industrial building even in areas where many thousands of vacancies cannot be filled? How can the hon. and learned Gentleman expect a proper redistribution of industry whilst such conditions exist?
Again, that is a different question.
China And Ussr (Export Licences)
59, 60 and 61.
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the number of applications and the total value thereof for licences to export steel and other metals to Bulgaria, Hungary and China, respectively; the number of these applications which he has granted and refused respectively; and the total value thereof for the last six months;(2) how many applications for licences, and to what value, have been received by his Department for the export of electrical equipment to China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, respectively, during the last six months; the number and value of those refused; the number and value of those allowed; and the number and value of those still under consideration, respectively; (3) the number of applications and the value thereof for licences to export machine tools to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which have been received by his Department in the last six months; the number and value of the applications which have been allowed; the number and value of those which have been refused; and the number and value of those now awaiting decision, respectively.
The collation of the detailed information requested by the hon. and learned Member is taking a little time, and I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible.
Has not the right hon. Gentleman already collected this information in order to put it before whatever is the appropriate committee discussing this matter?
I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman under-estimates the amount of work that is involved in providing the detailed information for which he asks. I am anxious that he should have information which is as accurate as possible, and it will be provided as soon as possible. If he is not satisfied, I hope that he will put a further Question on the Order Paper.
Whilst appreciating the accuracy and enthusiasm with which the right hon. Gentleman dealt with matters whilst he was at the Ministry of Pensions, may I suggest that surely he could give some general indication of how many applications for licences have been granted and how many have been refused?
That general information would not answer the specific Questions which the hon. and learned Gentleman has asked.
Inland Revenue Yield
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the yield to the Treasury would be during the current financial year from all sources, at the taxation level ruling during the financial year 1950–51.
The yield of Inland Revenue duties in 1954–55 at 1950–51 rates of tax would be about £2,565 million, compared with the Budget estimate of £2,385 million. The corresponding figures for Customs and Excise revenue would be approximately £1,715 million and £1,781.5 million respectively.
Bank Rate Reduction
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the reasons for reducing the Bank rate from 3½per cent, to 3 per cent.
The Bank of England took the view that this change was appropriate in present market conditions. I was, of course, consulted and concurred.
Was it the inflow of foreign temporary money into this country—the "hot money"—that caused the decision that has been taken? If so, can the Chancellor say to what extent that foreign "hot money" has been coming into the country over the past six months?
I have already answered this question once in debate, when I said that the greater part of the marked improvement in our reserves has been due to normal factors, and due to an increased confidence in sterling, which I think alt sections of the House would welcome at the present time. I said further that there had recently been a speculative element. My hon. Friend asked whether the Bank rate was changed specifically for that reason. The reason why it was changed, among others, was that money rates had eased in various centres since the last reduction in the Bank rate. This was one of the factors that were taken into account.
The local authorities are very anxious to know whether this reduction in the Bank rate will be reflected in the Public Works Loan Board's rates. Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any information about that?
Those rates are not governed by the Bank rate but are based on the general level of Government credit from time to time for loans for comparable periods. Therefore, I shall keep a watch on that matter.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when he first raised the Bank rate the building societies automatically raised their mortgage interest charges, and that although there have been two reductions in the Bank rate they have not followed the right hon. Gentleman's example? Will he do something about that?
Developments in that direction will depend upon movements in the market and upon decisions taken by the borrowers and lenders concerned. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman should under-rate the importance of leaving these matters to the market.
Controlled Pedestrian Crossings (Cost)
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the comparative cost, in connection with pedestrian crossings for which local authorities are responsible of police control and press-button light control.
The cost of police control is about £1,200 a year on the basis of a 12-hour day. The cost of installing press-button traffic light signals varies between £850 and £350, depending on whether the lights are provided with vehicle-actuated pads or not. The annual maintenance cost of such signals is £50 to £70.
Will my hon. Friend encourage the use of press-button signals rather than police controls?
Yes, Sir It is our policy to do so in all suitable cases in the interests of economy.
Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary making good progress with the collection of statistics to show whether or not zebra crossings, are, in fact, resulting in a reduction in the number of accidents?
Yes, Sir, we are making good progress in that as in other respects, and there may be an opportunity of discussing that matter later.