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Written Answers

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 1 June 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 1st July, 1954

Agriculture

Livestock Rearing Areas (Roads)

4.

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he proposes to introduce legislation to give financial assistance towards the improvement of unclassified and unadopted roads in livestock rearing areas, as announced in Command Paper, No. 9014, Rural Wales.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department said in a reply given on 24th June, it will not be possible to introduce legislation on this subject in the present Session.

Wheat Commission

6.

asked the Minister of Agriculture why the Wheat Commission remains in existence, incurring expense of administration, even though it has had no effective statutory duties to perform since 31st July, 1940; and when it is intended that it should be dissolved.

When the operation of the Wheat Acts was suspended in 1940 assurances were given to the farmers that the organisation of the Commission would not be destroyed so that the Acts could readily be brought back into operation after the war. In the meantime, almost all the staff have been lent to the Ministry of Food. I do not intend to alter this arrangement until the permanent arrangements for implementing the guarantee for wheat under the Agriculture Act have been decided upon.

Crichel Down (Report)

19.

asked the Minister of Agriculture on what dates he received deputations for the purpose of discussing the Crichel Down Report; the nature of these discussions: and the decision arrived at.

Home Department

Jurymen (Payments)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ensure a more suitable arrangement in the future for the regulation of payments made by coroners' officers to jurymen.

This is not a subject appropriate for legislation, but, in my view, is best dealt with by arrangement between the coroner and the local authority concerned. I am consulting the local authority associations and the Coroners' Society on the question whether it is necessary or desirable to take steps with a view to instituting a standard practice in this matter.

Coroners (Power Of Committal)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the circumstances repeatedly arising in decisions of coroners' courts to commit for trial the drivers of cars on charges of manslaughter; and whether he will take early steps to implement the recommendations of the Wright Committee relating to the power of committal by coroners.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) on 24th June.

Magistrates' Courts Committees (Expenditure)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied that magistrates' courts committees have sufficient discretionary powers in regard to staffing and equipping their petty sessional divisions.

I have recently relaxed in some respects the financial control which I exercised over the expenditure of magistrates' courts committees. In view of the continuing need for economy, I do not at present feel able to make further relaxations, but I have no reason to think that these restrictions are hampering the committees in the exercise of their functions. I shall continue to keep the position under review.

School Patrols, Brecon And Radnor

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the arrangements that exist or are contemplated with regard to school patrols in the counties of Brecon and Radnor; and whether he will indicate what support is being given by the Mid-Wales police authority for any arrangements.

Under the School Crossing Patrols Act, 1953, it is for the respective county councils to decide what arrangements, if any, should be made for patrolling school crossings. I am not aware that the Radnorshire County Council contemplates the introduction of any such arrangements; but I understand that the Breconshire County Council is at present discussing a possible scheme with the Mid-Wales police authority.

Dr Cort, Birmingham (Police Statement)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish the text of the signed statement made by Dr. Cort to the Birmingham Criminal Investigation Department in December, 1953.

It is not for me to publish a statement made by Dr. Cort to the Birmingham police. It is, of course, open to him to do so if he thinks that it would serve any useful purpose.

Aliens (Admission To United Kingdom)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why aliens in danger of losing their nationality are only allowed to remain in Britain if they come from countries behind the Iron Curtain.

There are in this country a large number of aliens who originally came from countries behind the Iron Curtain and whose nationality position is obscure, but these people have been allowed to remain because they were originally accepted as part of our contribution to solving the problem of the displaced persons in Europe after the war. Apart from this, the same rules are applied to those aliens who come from Iron Curtain countries as are applied to all other aliens.

Employment

Factories (Mechanically Propelled Trucks)

53.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has noted the increasing use of diesel and petrol trucks in enclosed premises such as factories and workshops; and what provision is made in his regulations with regard to the circumstances in which this practice may be forbidden.

The increasing use in factories of mechanically propelled trucks, including diesel and petrol trucks, has been noted. It has not been considered necessary to make regulations regarding their use, but if the hon. Member would indicate his particular concern I shall be glad to look into it.

Colonials, Liverpool

55 and 56.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many unemployed colonials in Liverpool have been referred to the Liverpool Transport Department for employment since 1st January, 1954; and how many have been accepted for employment;(2) how many unemployed colonials have been referred by his Department for employment in Liverpool since 1st January, 1954; and how many have been successful in obtaining employment as a result.

The records of the employment exchanges in matters of this sort do not distinguish the racial or geographical origin of the persons concerned and I am, therefore, unable to give the hon. Member the information she desires.

Women Over 40, Cardiff

57.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the difficulty of finding employment in Cardiff for women over 40 years of age; and what action he is taking to relieve the position.

It is often difficult to find work for women over 40 years of age, but not more so in Cardiff than elsewhere. There is a considerable local demand for women workers, but in many industries employers prefer the younger women. The employment exchange is doing what it can to induce a change in this attitude and the local employment committee have recently written to a large number of employers to ask them to co-operate in finding work for older persons.

Industrial Disputes

asked the Minister of Labour how many days were lost by industrial disputes in each of the years 1949 to 1953; and how many of these days in each year were lost by disputes in nationalised industries or undertakings.

The following table shows the approximate total number of working days lost through industrial disputes in each of the years 1949 to 1953, and the number lost in the nationalised industries (excluding steel and road goods transport which have not been fully nationalised throughout this period):

YearAll IndustriesNationalised Industries
19491,807,000839,000
19501,389,000526,000
19511,694,000468,000
19521,792,000679,000
19532,184,000411,000

National Service

Commonwealth Immigrants

54.

asked the Minister of Labour how many of the immigrants from the British Commonwealth, during the last annual period for which statistics are available, had the question of their National Service examined during the two-year period.

Youths (Effect On Employment)

58.

asked the Minister of Labour the approximate percentage of youths who, because of prospective calling-up for National Service, have refused to accept jobs involving vocational training or who, by frequent changes of employment, give evidence of instability.

This information is not available. The inquiry now being conducted about the effect of National Service on employment which was referred to in the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Nicholls) on 3rd June, should give some information on the latter part of the Question.

59.

asked the Minister of Labour when he hopes to complete his inquiry on the effect of National Service on the employment and prospects of young men.

The interviewing of the young men invited to take part in this inquiry will be completed at the end of July. Some of the preliminary results will be available shortly afterwards and I hope that a full report will be ready by the end of the year.

Hospitals

Chest Surgery

61.

asked the Minister of Health in how many hospitals under his direction major chest surgery is carried out; and how many consultant surgeons are engaged on this work.

Child Patients (Parents' Visits)

64.

asked the Minister of Health how many hospitals refuse to allow parents to see their children for some days after they have undergone small operations, such as the removal of tonsils; and the reason for such refusal.

Flue Pipes And Boilers (Inspection)

65.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has now advised all hospital authorities and maternity home authorities to overhaul and inspect all flue pipes and boilers, in order to avoid fire, and thus allay the anxiety of the public, following the fire at Dellwood Maternity Home, Reading, where it was found that joists and floorboards had been subjected to heat through a defective flue pipe for some time.

I would ask the hon. Member to await a statement which I hope to make shortly about all the aspects of this tragic fire.

Pharmaceutical Services (Report)

71.

asked the Minister of Health when he received the Report of the Linstead Committee on Hospital Pharmaceutical Services: and when the Report will be published.

This Report was made to the Central Health Services Council and received by them in December, 1953. The Council advised me on 8th December, 1953, in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, and also drew my attention to the comments of various other committees of the Council upon it.An extensive summary of the Report will appear in the Annual Report of the Central Health Services Council for 1953, which will be published in a few days.

Tonsil And Adenoid Operations

73.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the report of the American Medical Association advises that tonsils and adenoids should not be removed unless absolutely necessary, particularly in view of the fact that children who had been subjected to this operation were more susceptible to attacks from infantile paralysis and other forms of disease: and whether he will instruct regional hospital boards to adopt similar measures in this country.

I am aware of the report referred to and of the review in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Investigations are in progress in this country to establish whether the findings are applicable to conditions here.

Out-Patients (Waiting Time)

76.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that it is customary for some hospitals to keep out-patients waiting up to four hours before being attended to; and what steps are being taken to reduce this waiting time to a minimum.

I know that at some hospitals out-patients are often kept waiting for a long time and on 3rd June I sent a circular to hospital authorities in England and Wales asking them to review their existing arrangements with the object of eliminating unnecessary waiting time.

Clerk, Liverpool (Dismissal)

77.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that Mrs. L. M. Shearer, employed for the past 10 years as clerk in Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, was discharged on 31st March, 1954, being described by the medical officer to be permanently unfit to carry out her duties, but was informed by his Department on 29th April that no gratuity could be paid as recent medical examination did not show her to be permanently incapacitated; and whether, in view of this conflict of medical opinion, he will see that she is either re-employed or is paid her gratuity.

I am making inquiries into this case and will write to the hon. Member when they are completed.

Appointments, Charing Cross Hospital (Application Forms)

78.

asked the Minister of Health why it is necessary for applicants for the posts of Assistant Surgeon (Consultant) and Part-Time Anaesthetist (Consultant) at Charing Cross Hospital to submit 45 copies of their applications, particulars of which have been sent to him.

There is nothing in the regulations governing the appointment of specialists to call for this number of copies of applications, and I am taking the matter up with the Board of Governors.

Mental Patients, Warwickshire (Aftercare)

80.

asked the Minister of Health how many mental patients have been sent to mental homes in Warwick-

ADMISSIONS AND DISCHARGES (OTHER THAN DEATHS) AT THE CENTRAL HOSPITAL, HATTON1950–1953
YearAdmissionsDischarges
VoluntaryTemporaryCertifiedVoluntaryTemporaryCertified
195063919348671166
1951663122196303323
1952745171896833128
19538881318582495

Nurses, West Riding

79.

asked the Minister of Health the number of student nurses and qualified nurses employed in hospitals in the West Riding of Yorkshire on the last date for which figures are available; and how this figure compares with that for the previous year.

At 31st December, 1953, there were 3,023 student nurses, 2,956 full-time and 560 part-time qualified nurses. At 31st December, 1952, there were 3,243 student nurses, 2,880 full-time and 455 part-time qualified nurses.

Ministry Of Health

Drugs (Private Patients)

62.

asked the Minister of Health whether in cases in which cortisone, ACTH and other drugs in short supply are prescribed by doctors for their private patients, he will insist that records are kept and made available to his officers.

Records of the amounts supplied to private patients, and the conditions from which they are suffer-

shire during the last four years; how many have been released from these homes during this period; and whether he is satisfied with the aftercare they have received, and the results that have been achieved.

The reply to the first two parts of the Question is given in the table below. I know of no grounds for dissatisfaction with the aftercare of patients in this area, or with the results achieved.ing are already being made available to my officers.

Deaf Children (Admission To Institutions)

63.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that a number of children admitted to institutions for the mentally deficient have been proved to be suffering from deafness only; and whether, in view of the improved methods now available for the recognition and treatment of deafness in children, he will give instructions that every child admitted to an institution for the mentally retarded who appears to be hard of hearing shall be examined by an aural specialist on admission and not less than once every five years during childhood.

I know of a few such cases, but I do not consider that instructions on the lines suggested would be helpful. My officers have recently reviewed the circumstances in which handicapped persons, especially the deaf, may be admitted to mental or mental deficiency hospitals. I understand that there is increasing medical interest in this subject and that some research is being carried out.

I am confident that the medical staff of mental deficiency hospitals make use of improved techniques as they are developed and arrange for examination by other specialists according to their patients' needs.

Shortened Birth Certificates

67.

asked the Minister of Health the number of shortened birth certificates issued each year since the inception of the scheme; and the proportion each year of the total number of births.

The number of short birth certificates sold in 1948, i.e. the first complete year since their introduction, is estimated as about 694,000. The figures for succeeding years up to 1953 are 781,000, 815,000, 914,000, 956,000 and 919,000. The numbers of births registered in each of these six years were:

1948776,971
1949731,172
1950691,760
1951679,689
1952673,286
1953682,007

Illegitimate Births

68.

asked the Minister of Health the total number of illegitimate births, and their proportion to the total births, for the last three years for which figures are available.

Illegitimate live births in England and Wales numbered 35,250 in 1950; 32,771 in 1951; and 32,549 in 1952. The provisional figure for 1953 is 32,503. These represent proportions for 1,000 total (legitimate and illegitimate) births of 51, 48, 48 and 47 respectively.

Dentists

69.

asked the Minister of Health what arrangements are made to enable a patient to know that he must lodge a complaint about a dentist within six months of the fitting of a set of dentures.

My right hon. Friend does not think that any formal arrangements are necessary. There is power to waive the limit where there is good cause.

72.

asked the Minister of Health what arrangements he is making to obtain details of the income of dentists from the Board of Inland Revenue.

As part of an investigation of dentists' remuneration under the National Health Service agreed between the British Dental Association, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, and myself, the Board have, at our invitation, supplied us with information about the total professional income and expenses in 1952–53 returned for Income Tax purposes by a number of dentists selected by sampling methods. Naturally, the information supplied to us is in a form which does not enable the income or expenses of any individual to be identified.

"Algipan"

82.

asked the Minister of Health whether the preparation, "Algipan," can be freely prescribed under the National Health Service; and its cost, as compared with that of any available B.P.C. alternative.

A doctor may prescribe any drug or medicine which he considers necessary for the treatment of a patient, but the Joint Committee on Prescribing classified "Algipan" as including drugs which, in their view, had not been proved of therapeutic value. Doctors were, therefore, asked not to prescribe it unless satisfied it was necessary, exceptionally, in a particular case.The cost to the National Health Service is 4s. 6½d. There is no identical standard preparation, but the cost of a similar quantity of a B.P.C. ointment commonly used for the same purpose is 2s. 1d.

Infant Mortality Rates

asked the Minister of Health the infant mortality rates and the neo-natal mortality rates of legitimate and illegitimate babies for the last three years for which figures are available.

The rates per 1,000 live births have been:

ENGLAND AND WALES
Infant mortality (under 1 year)Neo-natal mortality (under 4 weeks)
LegitimateIllegitimateLegitimateIllegitimate
195029391826
195129381826
195227351825

Student Nurses (Examination Fees)

asked the Minister of Health the amount of the fee which student nurses have to pay for State registration examinations and for what purpose the fees are used; and what further fee successful finals candidates have to pay for registration and to whom.

Student nurses training for the Register pay a fee of £2 12s. 6d. for entrance to the Preliminary Examination when the two parts of this examination are taken together, or £3 10s. for both parts when taken separately, and a fee of £4 4s. for entrance to the Final Examination. Successful candidates pay a fee of £3 3s. for admission to the Register. All these fees are paid to the General Nursing Council and form the bulk of the income out of which the Council's expenses are met.

Education

Facilities For Adults

84.

asked the Minister of Education whether she will make a statement on the committee appointed to review the provision of local facilities for adult education.

The committee has not yet reported, but I understand that it expects to do so shortly.

School Building

85.

asked the Minister of Education how many new schools have been completed, and how many of them were started, in the period since October, 1951.

Between 1st October, 1951, and 1st February, 1954, 1,145 new schools were completed, of which 167 were started after 1st October, 1951.

86.

asked the Minister of Education by what percentage the number of new primary school places under construction has been reduced since October, 1951.

The number of new primary school places under construction on 30th April last was 36 per cent. less than the corresponding figure for 1st October, 1951. The reason for the reduction in the primary school building programme was explained in my answer to the hon. Member's Question on 18th February, 1954.

94.

asked the Minister of Education what effect the approval of new schools intended for London County Council estates near Slough will have upon priorities for the approval of other new schools in South Buckinghamshire.

My school building policy is designed to concentrate the available resources on the provision of the new school places needed as a result of major housing developments and the increase in the school roll. I shall continue to treat requests for the approval of new schools, wherever it may be proposed to build them, by reference to these needs.

Epileptic Children

95.

asked the Minister of Education how many Warwickshire epileptic children were placed in special schools or homes during 1953; the waiting list still remaining at the latest convenient date: and the building programme in 1953–54 for the accommodation of such children.

The latest return from the Warwickshire local education authority shows that during 1953 three epileptic children were placed in special schools or boarding homes. In December last, three children were awaiting such places. Extensions to the Lingfield Epileptic School, Surrey, which were begun in 1952, and of which further instalments have been included in the building programmes for each subsequent year, will provide about 150 extra places, of which 78 will come into use next term.

Technical College Students (Awards)

90.

asked the Minister of Education whether it is proposed to set up a national award-making body for technological education for the purpose of instituting an award which will be nationally and internationally recognised.

The National Advisory Council on Education for Industry and Commerce, which advises me on such questions, is at present considering revised proposals for establishing suitable awards for advanced students in technical colleges, but it has not yet reported to me.

All-Age Schools, Cornwall

93.

asked the Minister of Education how many all-age schools have been reorganised in Cornwall since 1947; and how many such schools will be reorganised within the next three years.

The Cornwall local education authority have reorganised 96 all-age schools since the end of 1947 when the total was 231. They estimate that 46 further schools will be reorganised by the beginning of the autumn term, 1957.

Science Museum (Planetarium)

asked the Minister of Education what progress is being made regarding the installation of a planetarium in the Science Museum.

No progress can be made with this project until it becomes possible to complete the centre block of the Science Museum.

Bechuanaland

Chief's Representative (Terminated Appointment)

96.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations on what ground Headman Manyaphiri Ikitseng, who formerly represented ex-Chief Seretse Khama at Mahalapye, has been arrested in Bechuanaland and deported to Serowe.

Manyaphiri Ikitseng has never been hereditary headman in the Mahalapye area, nor was he appointed Chief's representative by Seretse, who has never been Chief. On termination of his appointment as Chief's representative and the appointment of a new Chief's representative, Manyaphiri was informed by the native Authority that he would have to return to his home in Serowe. He has never been arrested.

Convicted Native

97.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations on what ground Headman Lekameleng Kegapetswe of Letlhakana Village, Boteti River, has been arrested and imprisoned in Bechuanaland.

Lekameleng Kegapetswe is not a headman. He was convicted by the Native Authority for calling a meeting which, under native law and custom, only headmen may do and was sentenced to two months' imprisonment. He did not appeal against the sentence.

Trade And Commerce

Military Equipment (Exports)

98.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value and quantity of military equipment exported to Spain, Egypt and Guatemala, respectively, in each of the last three years for which figures are available.

The value of exports of arms, ammunition and military stores and appliances (which include sporting guns and some other nonmilitary material) and of explosives in the years 1951, 1952 and 1953 were as follows:

  • Spain: 1951, £1,049; 1952, £3,221; 1953, £1,242.
  • Egypt: 1951, £613,394; 1952, £68,570; 1953, £154,530.
  • Guatemala: 1951, £79; 1952,; 1953, £386.
Licences are not issued for exports of military equipment to Guatemala and Egypt and the figures for 1952 and 1953 represent mainly sporting equipment and industrial explosives.

New Factory, Sunderland

99.

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects building work on a new factory on the Pallion Trading Estate, Sunderland, to be started.

Work was started last week on the building of a factory of 210,000 sq. ft. on the Pallion Trading Estate to be leased to Edison Swan Limited.

National Finance

Social Service Expenditure

101.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the fact that the total expenditure on public social service was £512 million in 1939, £1,471 million in 1949, £1,531 million in 1950, £1,638 million in 1951–52 and £1,865 million in 1952–53, particulars of which have been sent to him, he will give an assurance that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to reduce this amount or to fix some limit on increase.

The Government are, of course, fully aware of the growth of our commitments on social services, and this matter is being examined in connection with the careful review of public expenditure to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred during the Budget debate.

United Kingdom (Us Aid)

102.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount of direct United States aid received by the United Kingdom in each of the years 1950. 1951. 1952 and 1953.

United States direct aid, excluding receipts under the Katz-Gaitskell agreements and the Benton-Moody amendment, and after deducting the counterpart returned to the United States authorities, was as follows: 1950, £243 million; 1951, £63 million; 1952, £137 million; 1953, £100 million.Details of the composition of these figures are to be found in Cmd. 9119, Tables 3, 10 and in the table showing special receipts (page 38).

Us Off-Shore Purchases (Value)

103.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total value of United States off-shore purchases for each of the years 1952 and 1953. and to date in 1954.

£1 million in 1952; £18 million in 1953; and (provisionally) £9 million in the first quarter of 1954.

Tax Remissions

104.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total net remission to the taxpayer since 1951 of reducing Income Tax and Surtax from the 1951 levels to the respective levels established in each of the subsequent years.

Excluding relief to companies, about £335 million in a full year. of which about £230 million represents the increases in personal allowances and alterations in the reduced rate bands made in 1952, £95 million the reductions in the standard rate and reduced rates made in 1953, and £10 million the restoration of initial allowances in 1953 and their replacement by investment allowances in 1954.These figures relate to Income Tax and Surtax falling on personal incomes, including dividends and interest. They exclude Income Tax on the undistributed profits of companies, because these figures would be meaningless by themselves in view of the change made in 1952 whereby Profits Tax is no longer deductible in computing profits for Income Tax.

Civil Service

Resignations

105.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants of permanent secretary, deputy secretary and under-secretary grades or their equivalent have left the Civil Service within the last five years to take up posts with business firms; and what steps he proposes to take to arrest this trend.

Since the beginning of 1950, two permanent secretaries. one deputy secretary and two undersecretaries have left the Civil Service before the age of 60 to take up posts with business firms. The deputy secretary has since returned to the Service.As regards members of equivalent grades in classes other than the Administrative, the answer is one scientist, certainly; two other resignations from the Scientific Officer class may have been for this purpose.I do not think there is any trend to arrest.

Retired Pensioners, Scotland

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number, or approximate number, of Civil Service pensioners resident in Scotland, distinguishing separately those who formerly served in the Postmaster-General's Department.

Material is not available to give more than a very approximate estimate of the number of Civil Service pensioners resident in Scotland. Including widows and other dependants in receipt of pensions, the best estimate I can make is about 3,000 in addition to the pensioners of the Postmaster-General's Department.The figure for the latter, which represents the number of pensioners who were serving in Scotland immediately before retirement, is about 5,400.

China Factory, Team Valley

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what offers have been made to Her Majesty's Government to take over the Durham china factory on the Team Valley Trading Estate; and on what grounds the offers have been turned down.

As a result of strenuous efforts by the Receiver to find a purchaser of the undertaking as a going concern, a number of firms inspected the factory, and of these two made several offers. On two occasions the offer made was accepted, but the offeror found himself unable to complete the transaction.The Treasury, in consultation with the other interested parties, have gone to considerable lengths to try to avoid closing down the undertaking, but I regret that no acceptable alternative could be found. Further efforts are being made to find a new tenant for the factory.

West African Territories (Japanese Imports)

106.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what estimates of their 1954 importations of Japanese goods were made by the Governments of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia, respectively; and how far the current rates of importation deviate from the estimates.

The combined estimate of the four West African territories for 1954 was £18 million. Imports to the end of May are estimated to have been at an annual rate of £12 million.

Hong Kong (Healthy Village)

107.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what use the Government of Hong Kong intends to make of the site of the Tzat-tze-Nui: and what is to happen to the present inhabitants of the Healthy Village.

Part of the area of Crown land now called Healthy Village which has been a temporary resettlement area since 1947, has been offered to the Hong Kong Housing Society for erecting 450–600 permanent low cost flats. The inhabitants of 47 temporary cottages on the building site will be given priority when the flats are allotted. Those who do not want, or Who do not qualify for flats, will be allowed to rebuild their cottages in some other resettlement area.No decision has been taken regarding the future use of the remainder of the Healthy Village area.

Railway Undertaking, Scotland

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is yet in a position to approve the scheme for the reorganisation and for the appointment of an authority for the railway undertaking in Scotland, which was submitted to him on 15th April, 1954, by the British Transport Commission.

Active Service Wills (Validity)

asked the Attorney-General if he is aware that, as a result of legal action concerning a soldier's will, doubt had arisen about the validity of the active service provision for an unwitnessed testament; and if he will introduce legislation to give retrospective validity to such wills.

I am not aware of any recent case which has raised doubts about the validity of unwitnessed wills made by soldiers in actual military service and my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor is satisfied that it is unnecessary to introduce legislation on this subject.I have made inquiries about the case, referred to in correspondence in the Press, which I understand my hon. Friend has in mind, and I am informed that letters of administration with the will annexed were granted to the soldier's widow. The validity of the will was not disputed, hut a grant of probate could not issue as such because no executor was named in the will.