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Written Answers

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 29th June, 1954

British Army

Married Quarters, Trieste

8.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and other ranks, respectively, are now serving in Trieste; and how many are living with their wives in married quarters.

There are 145 officers and 405 other ranks in Trieste who are married and might normally have their wives with them. None of them are living with their wives in married quarters.

Ta Bounty

11.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now in a position to make an announcement about the revised bounty for the Territorial Army.

Officers' Pensions

asked the Secretary for War when the increases in pensions for a limited number of ex-officers, which the Government have approved, will be paid, and from what date arrears will be paid.

About 90 per cent. are already in payment. The remainder will be paid very shortly. Arrears are being paid back to 1st April, 1954.

Territorials, Brighton And Hove (Summer Camp)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many residents in the boroughs of Brighton and Hove have been called up to attend the annual camp of the 411th (Sussex) Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army, from 31st July; what are their professions; and how many are directly employed in holiday industries.

Six officers and 83 other ranks resident in Brighton and Hove are to train with this unit. There are three bankers, one doctor, one insurance broker, one university student, four teachers, 20 clerks, 14 builders, 11 men in the engineering trade, five drivers, six shop assistants, two electricians, one policeman, one railway worker, six men in the catering trade and 13 in miscellaneous jobs. I cannot say exactly how many are connected directly with the holiday trades.

Local Government

The Broads (Weeds And Silt)

51.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what steps he proposes to take to prevent further deterioration of the Broads.

This would be a matter for my right hon. Friend only if the Broads were designated as a National Park; and although the National Parks Commission have discussed this with officers of the Department from time to time, they have as yet made no proposal to that end. My right hon. Friend is advised that the cost of clearing the weeds and the silt would be very heavy; and he is not persuaded that it would be right to contemplate so major an undertaking.

Reconstruction Works (Architectural Standards)

52.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what action he proposes to take in view of the low architectural standards of the reconstruction of central urban areas now taking place to which attention has been drawn by the Royal Fine Art Commission.

My right hon. Friend believes that the Commission's concern arises mainly over the rebuilding of the City of London; and he is already in touch with the Commission, the City Corporation, and the London County Council. He is informed that arrangements were instituted earlier this year for the City's planning consultants, Dr. Charles Holden and Professor Sir William Holford, who is also a member of the Commission, to meet regularly with officers of the Corporation and of the County Council. The purpose of this is to consider the general form of development for each of the main building units in the war damaged areas of the City, as well as to deal with individual proposals. Under this procedure, close and early collaboration will my right hon. Friend understands be maintained with the Commission on questions of design in the more important cases. These arrangements will he hopes do much in the future to remove the Commission's present apprehension.

Brunswick Square Site (Purchase Order)

53.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government why he has refused to confirm the compulsory purchase order which the St. Pancras Borough Council has made on a site in Brunswick Square which is zoned as residential in the County of London Plan.

Building Bye-Laws (Ceiling Heights)

56.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government how far the bye-law specifying minimum ceiling heights of seven feet six inches is now generally applicable.

It is almost universally applicable, a very few exceptions having been allowed on special grounds.

New Towns (Rents)

57.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the number and percentage of tenants in the new towns during the past 12 months who have given up their tenancies because of inability to pay the rents or who, for this reason, have requested transference back to the London area.

Exact information is not available. My right hon. Friend understands from the development corporations concerned with the London new towns that the number is quite insignificant, something like eight out of a total of 16,000 tenants housed.

Exchange Of Tenancies

58.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will issue a circular to local authorities further to encourage them to make arrangements for the exchange of tenants between one housing authority and another where this is necessary for reasons of health or employment convenience.

My right hon. Friend is grateful to the hon. Member for his suggestion. He has received similar advice from the Housing Management Sub-Committee of the Central Housing Advisory Committee. My right hon. Friend consulted the Sub-Committee after the debate in Standing Committee C on the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill on the need for further legislative or administrative action to facilitate exchanges. The Sub-Committee were unanimous in thinking that it would be inappropriate to introduce an element of compulsion through legislation so long as ground is being gained all the time by goodwill. They have recommended him to send out a further Circular about the end of September. He proposes to act on their advice.

Ministry Of Works

Stores And Buildings

59.

asked the Minister of Works the total value of used and unused stores, respectively, held by or on behalf of his Department at the latest date for which figures are available.

At 31st October, 1953, my Department held unused stores, including fuel and hutting, valued at £5,697,000 and used stores having a new value of £1,172,000. Since October, 1953, there has been a reduction in these stocks estimated at £1,100,000. These figures exclude certain small items and also materials and plant in building maintenance depots. In addition, my Department holds large stocks on behalf of the Ministries of Health and Food and the Home Office. No other organisation holds stores on behalf of my Department.

60 and 61.

asked the Minister of Works (1) the present value of the land and buildings occupied by used and unused stores held by his Department; and what is the number of staff required to protect and administer such stores;(2) the annual cost of storing, maintaining, protecting and administering the used and unused stores held by his Department.

It is not possible to give the capital value of the land and buildings used for my Department's stores, but the estimated annual rental value of the storage buildings is about £245,000. The staff required to operate these stores numbers 1,728 of whom 1,256 are in industrial grades. The present estimated annual cost of storing, manitaining, protecting and administering the stores held for my own and other Departments is about £1,450,000.

Palace Of Westminster (Oil-Paintings)

62.

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware of the deterioration of some of the oil-paintings in the Palace of Westminster; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this.

During the past five years nearly all the large murals and many other pictures in the Palace have been cleaned. My right hon. Friend is aware that a few more need treatment, but as they are in Committee Rooms they can only be dealt with during a long Recess when the specialist staff is available.

South Bank (Building Licences)

63.

asked the Minister of Works what progress has been made in the granting of licences for building on the South Bank.

I have received no applications for building licences for the South Bank between County Hall and Waterloo Bridge.

Cement Supplies, South Wales

64.

asked the Minister of Works why he is reluctant to import cement from the Continent in view of the acute shortage in South Wales.

As I stated on 22nd June in reply to the hon. Member, I have already asked the cement industry if they can improve deliveries in South Wales. The Minister of Works does not make, import, or distribute cement but cement is on open general licence and can be imported by anyone wishing to do so.

Development Areas (Factory Buildings)

asked the Minister of Works how many new factories or extensions of over 1,000 square feet have been built in the Development Areas by private enterprise since 1952.

Four hundred and ninety-seven new factories and extensions of over 5,000 square feet in area have been built in the Development Areas by private enterprise between 1st January, 1952, and 31st May, 1954. I regret that figures of factory building below 5,000 square feet are not readily available.

Employment

Licensed Residential Establishments (Tips And Gratuities)

65.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will refer back the proposals of the Licensed Residential Establishment Wages Board on Tips and Gratuities to the Board for further consideration, and refuse to sign these proposals until the completion of further investigations.

My right hon. and learned Friend is not yet in a position to say what action he will take on the proposals referred to.

Coal Mines (Recruitment)

66.

asked the Minister of Labour what recent steps he has taken to recruit coal miners from the counties in the South of England.

The employment exchanges in these areas, as elsewhere, are kept informed of the industry's requirements. They assist in general publicity and bring the opportunities in coalmining to the notice of suitable men seeking employment. There are standing arrangements with the National Coal Board for handling applications. There have been no recent changes in this matter.

Scotland

Adult Education (Students)

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of the number of students enrolled for each non-vocational or adult educational subject for the years 1951–52 and 1952–53.

I have written to the hon. Member explaining why it is impracticable to supply the precise details asked for and giving the best information available. For further particulars, I would refer him to Table 13 of the Annual Report on Education in Scotland in 1953 (Cmd. 9141) and Tables 13 and 14 of the corresponding Report for 1952 (Cmd. 8813).

Local Government Superannuation Regulations

70.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he proposes to lay before Parliament the regulations for which provision was made in the Local Government Superannuation Act, 1953.

I hope to lay the regulations before Parliament within the next few days.

Legal Fees (Housing Loans)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the total cost of legal fees incurred by local authorities in Scotland in negotiating housing loans in 1952 and 1953.

Housing (Exchequer Contributions)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement about the rates of Exchequer contributions to be paid for new houses completed in Scotland after 30th June, 1954.

Yes. As hon. Members will recall, the recent White Paper on. Housing Policy, Scotland, indicated that, in the interests of the general body of taxpayers, the Exchequer contributions could not continue indefinitely at the present rate. These contributions would normally be reviewed at this time to enable me to consider whether a draft order varying the existing rates should be submitted to the House and the recent fall in the Public Works Loan Board's interest rate would have been a factor in the review. I have, however, decided to postpone consideration of this question until the recommendations of the Sorn Committee on Valuation and Rating have been received and the Government have had an opportunity of reaching conclusions upon them. The present rates of Exchequer and rate contributions will therefore continue unchanged for new houses completed between the 30th June, 1954, and the date of the subsequent review.

Immigration (Control)

71.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation giving the Government power to control immigration on the lines of the system in force in the Dominions and in foreign countries.

The Government have been considering whether any modification of the present position would be desirable, but many wide and complex issues are involved and I regret that I am not in a position to say when a conclusion will be reached.

Shipping (Laid-Up Vessels)

72.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the amount of shipping registered in the United Kingdom now laid up for reasons other than repair.

The information available in my Department indicates that, excluding ships under repair, 49 ships registered in the United Kingdom amounting to 196,000 gross tons, were laid up at the end of last month; this includes 23 small ships with a gross tonnage below 1,600.

Coastal Areas (Land Reclamation)

73.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will arrange for a coastal survey to be made around the country with a view to ascertaining what low-lying land can be reclaimed, and what action should be taken to reduce or prevent storm flooding.

No. My Department is already aware of the saltings and similar areas round the coast whose enclosure from the sea would be physically practicable. River boards are generally responsible for the protection of low-lying areas from tidal flooding and are well aware of the areas likely to be affected and the measures needed for their protection.

Hong Kong (Sentenced Service Men)

74.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Service men are serving sentences in prisons in Hong Kong; what is the length of sentence; and in how many cases flogging has been administered as part of the sentence.

I am obtaining up-to-date particulars from the Governor and will circulate the information required in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Kenya (Labour Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what instructions are given in Kenya to Government officers witnessing agreements under the Resident Labourers Ordinances as to the minimum rates of pay and as to the conditions under which the wife or children of the labourer can be bound to work under the agreement.

None. It is provided by law that officers can refuse at their discretion to attest any contract which does not provide for a fair monetary remuneration, having regard to local wage rates. They can also require the employer to give security for the payment of the labourer's wages. In cases where a resident labourer volunteers the services of his wife and children, a clause may be inserted in the contract stipulating the rate of wages to be paid to them, but they cannot be bound under the contract.

Uganda (Makerere College)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies his future plans regarding the activities of an Extra Mural Department of the University College of East Africa in Makerere.

The particular importance of extra-mural work in East Africa has been fully recognised. In 1952 Her Majesty's Government made a special grant from Colonial Development and Welfare funds to assist the University College authorities to appoint a Director of Extra-Mural Studies for an experimental period of three to four years. At the same time the Uganda Government voted £10,000 for the appointment, under the Director, of a Resident Tutor for Uganda for a similar period.Makerere College is, in common with other colonial university institutions, an autonomous body and plans for future activities of its Extra-Mural Department are a matter for the College Council. But I understand that by August eight extra-mural centres will have been established and two new ones will be developed; also that two residential courses have been held at the College. I am informed that plans for further expansion are being prepared for submission to the College Council.

Grammar School, Presteigne

asked the Minister of Education how much was spent by the Radnorshire Education Committee on the buildings, furniture and equipment, other than books, respectively, of the Presteigne Grammar School in the five years ended with the financial year 1952–53; and whether she will instruct that the endowment of this school, amounting to nearly £200 a year, which, alone among the school endowments of Radnorshire, has been taken by the county council and is paid into the general education account, should be returned to the school.

Information on the first part of the Question is not available in my Department. With regard to the second part of the Question, the endowment of the former endowed grammar school at Presteigne was in 1894 incorporated into the Radnorshire Intermediate and Technical Education Fund, which is now regulated by a scheme made under the Charitable Trusts Acts on 28th February, 1935, and I see no reason to amend that scheme at present.

asked the Minister of Education whether she is now in a position to give further information concerning the Thomas Pugh prizes; and whether these prizes will revert to the Presteigne Grammar School.

Since I replied to the hon. Member on 25th March, I understand from further inquiries I have made that from 1946 the payments of £6 per annum were accumulated by the Trustees concerned, and that at the beginning of the present year the accumulations were paid over by them to the newly constituted body of Trustees of the Presteigne Eleemosynary Charities.

New Factory Building

asked the President of the Board of Trade the latest figures for approvals of new factory building and extensions for Scotland and Great Britain, respectively; and whether, on a percentage basis, this shows an improvement or decline in the relative position of Scotland as compared with 1952 and 1953.

The figures for the first quarter of 1954 are: Scotland 37 approvals, at an estimated total value of £64·43 million; Great Britain, 12,306 approvals at an estimated total value of £657·23 million. On a percentage basis, these show a decline in the relative position of Scotland for the first quarter compared with 1952 and 1953. A quarter is, however, too short a period on which to base a comparison. It is expected that the figures of approvals for Scotland in the second quarter of this year, when available, will show an increase both over those for the first quarter and over those for the same quarter in 1952 and 1953.

Income Tax Act, 1952 (Section 468 Applications)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the nominal capital of the 864 companies who have been given permission to move overseas under Section 468 (1) of the Income Tax Act, 1952.

I regret that this information is not available. The hon. Member may like to know that 864 is the total of the applications under all the four heads of the subsection which have received Treasury consent: figures are not kept separately under each head.