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Written Answers

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 8th July, 1954

King And Queen Of Sweden (London Visit)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what streets were closed by the Metropolitan Police on the occasion of the arrival of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden at Westminster Pier on 28th June; what time this arrival was due to take place; and what time the streets were closed to traffic.

I am circulating below a list of the streets closed on this occasion. Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden were due to arrive at Westminster Pier at 12.45 p.m. The streets were closed at 11.30 a.m. in order to permit the Sovereign's escort, guard of honour, bands and the Service men lining the processional route to take up position by 12 noon. Westminster Bridge, Bridge Street and Victoria Embankment were reopened at 1.24 p.m. and the other streets at 1.36 p.m.

The following is the list:

  • Bridge Street
  • Constitution Hill
  • Horse Guards Approach Road
  • Horse Guards Avenue
  • Marlborough Road
  • Queen's Gardens
  • Spur Road
  • The Mall
  • Victoria Embankment (south of Northumberland Avenue)
  • Westminster Bridge
  • Whitehall Court.

Marriage Ceremonies (Registrars)


asked the Minister of Health if he will introduce legislation to allow all ministers of religion to celebrate marriages without the presence of a registrar.

No. Section 43 of the Marriage Act, 1949, which takes the place of earlier legislation to the same effect, provides machinery for enabling any non-conformist Minister, including a Roman Catholic priest, to be authorised, in respect of a specific registered building, to perform the full duties of a registrar of marriages in respect of marriages solemnised in that building by him.

Ministry Of Health

Welfare Foods


asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that all local authorities in England and Wales will have made adequate arrangements for the supply of welfare foods after 14th July.

I am satisfied that so far as can be foreseen the arrangements should be satisfactory, but in a transfer of responsibility on this scale there may be a few local difficulties which will need to be put right by experience.

Part-Time Specialists (Domiciliary Visits)


asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider the abolition of the payment of fees to part-time specialists for domiciliary consultations.

No. In any case these fees form part of the arrangements agreed in 1949 and any change in them would be a matter in the first place for the Medical Whitley Council.

Dental Patients


asked the Minister of Health what steps he has taken to ensure that the statement which is required to be signed by dentists upon the acceptance of a patient under the National Health Service is given to the patient.

Dentists are under an obligation to give the statement by their terms of service.

Mayday Hospital (Observation Unit)


asked the Minister of Health if he is satisfied with the arrangements made by his Department in regard to the reception and accommodation of patients into Mayday Hospital on a three-day order for observation.

I understand that the new observation unit is working satisfactorily, but certain structural improvements suggested by a Commissioner of the Board of Control are being considered by the Regional Hospital Board.

Unstaffed Beds, Bristol


asked the Minister of Health how many hospital beds are out of commission in Bristol as a result of the shortage of nurses; and what steps are being taken to make good this shortage.

Ashton-Under-Lyne General Hospital


asked the Minister of Health how many children have been treated for ear, nose and throat complaints at the Ashton-under-Lyne General Hospital since 18th March, 1954.


asked the Minister of Health how many children are awaiting admission to the Ashton-under-Lyne General Hospital for ear, nose and throat operations; and how this number compares with that obtaining on 18th March, 1954.


asked the Minister of Health whether the additional out-patient session and the additional operating session are still functioning at the Ashton-under-Lyne General Hospital; and with what results.

Yes. Since the additional sessions began the average Weekly number of operations has increased from six to between 10 and 11.

Anglo-American Talks (Washington Declaration)


asked the Prime Minister whether arising from the recent Washington communiqué, he will now seek to establish the principle of self-government for all countries whose people desire it.

The Washington declaration reaffirms the guiding principles of the Atlantic Charter, and I have no hesitation in saying that these principles are always respected in the exercise of British policy.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will attempt to apply, in relation to nations now divided against their will, the principle of unity through free and fairly conducted elections approved by the Churchill-Eisenhower communiqué in Washington; and, in particular, if he will undertake to apply this principle to Ireland.

The terms of the declaration speak for themselves, and I have nothing to add. They do not seem to be applicable to Ireland.


Technical Education Facilities, Newcastle-Under-Lyme


asked the Minister of Education if she is aware of the lack of facilities for technical education for children living in the rural district of Newcastle-under-Lyme; and if she will take action, in conjunction with the local education authority, to provide such facilities where required.

Since last autumn the Stoke-on-Trent local education authority has been unable to admit to its secondary technical school children from the neighbouring county area. As my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member in a recent letter, the Staffordshire authority are considering the extension in certain secondary modern schools of courses leading to technical courses in further education establishments.

Outward-Bound Schools (Financial Aid)


asked the Minister of Education whether she will give grants for more establishments run on the principles of the Outward-Bound schools, with a view to giving a healthy outlet for the adventurous instincts of young people between the ages of 16 and 18 years.

My right hon. Friend fully recognises the value of the training provided, but she is not at all sure that direct grants from her Department would be the best way of helping this particular activity. She can offer a limited amount of aid towards equipment, and recognises for grant expenditure by local education authorities in assisting young people to attend courses.

Spastics (Schools, West Riding)


asked the Minister of Education how many schools in the West Riding of Yorkshire are devoted entirely to the care of spastic children; and whether teachers in these schools are required to hold any special qualifications.

Two. Teachers in these schools must be qualified teachers, but are not required to hold additional special qualifications.

Gce (Report)


asked the Minister of Education if she will request the Secondary School Examinations Council to consider the report of the Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate on the general certificate of education and to advise her on the recommendations contained therein.

No. As the report makes clear, the syndicate has not yet formulated any proposals for my right hon. Friend's consideration.

Building Programme (Finance)


asked the Minister of Education what proportion the estimated value of the approved school building programme for 1954–55 represents of the value of projects requested by the local education authorities for the year.

My right hon. Friend cannot usefully add to the answer which she gave to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) on 3rd June.

Technical Teachers (Pay)


asked the Minister of Education whether, when the Burnham Technical Committee submits its recommendations regarding the remuneration of teachers in technical institutions, she will consider making awards retrospective.

No. Section 89 of the Education Act, 1944, does not give my right hon. Friend the power to make a remuneration of teachers order having retrospective effect.

Training College Students (Grants Inquiry)


asked the Minister of Education when she expects to complete her inquiries about the grants now available to students in training colleges.

This inquiry is being pressed forward, but my right hon. Friend cannot at the moment say when it will be concluded.

School Meals (Charges)


asked the Minister of Education to publish a list of local education authorities which have not revised their income scales for the remission of the charge for school dinners since the issue of Circular 262 in January, 1953.

England And Wales


  • Buckinghamshire
  • Lincolnshire (Holland).
  • Lincolnshire (Kesteven)
  • Norfolk.
  • Northamptonshire
  • Peterborough.
  • Somerset.
  • Suffolk East.
  • Sussex East.
  • Sussex West.
  • Wiltshire.
  • Yorkshire East Riding.
  • Carmarthen.

County boroughs

  • Blackpool.
  • Brighton.
  • Coventry.
  • Croydon.
  • Dewsbury
  • Grimsby.
  • Halifax.
  • Leicester.
  • Lincoln.
  • Nottingham.
  • Oxford.
  • Reading.
  • Southampton.
  • West Ham.
  • Wolverhampton.

Technical College Fees (Regulations)


asked the Minister of Education when she will be able to state her policy upon out-county fees in technical colleges.

My right hon. Friend has recently published Regulations on this matter and I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Trade And Commerce

German Coin-Operated Amusement Machines


asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been made to allow the importation of amusement machines manufactured in West Germany: and what types of machines are to be imported.

A bilateral quota of £10,000 for 12 months has recently been established for the import from Western Germany of automatic coin-operated amusement machines, including gramophones and phonographs.

Trade Commissioners, Canada


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many United Kingdom Trade Commission officers there are in Canada; and what was the cost of this service in 1952 and 1953, respectively.

There are 24 Trade Commissioners and Assistants with about 60 local staff; the cost in the financial year 1952–53 was £178,067 and in 1953–54 £180,543.

United States Oils And Fats


asked the President of the Board of Trade the amount of United States oils and fats imported in 1953–54; whether he will state the provisional amounts that will be imported in 1954–55; and what import restrictions there are upon these commodities.

During the 12 months ended May, 1954, imports of oils and fats from the United States amounted to £5·75 million, of which linseed oil accounted for £2·1 million, lard for £1·6 million and cottonseed oil for £1·3 million. Many oils and fats can be imported without restriction from all sources, and I cannot forecast what purchases private traders will make in the coming year. A number of different import restrictions are still in force for balance of payments reasons for certain oils and fats imported from the dollar area and other non-sterling countries, but we have agreed to purchase from the United States, with funds made available under the Mutual Security Act, butter to the value of $6 million, lard to the value of $21·5 million and cottonseed oil to the value of $11 million.


asked the President of the Board of Trade the total licences granted by his Department in the last 12 months for the import of caviare, stating the countries from which imported, the weight and the price paid.

Nine licences for the import of caviare to a total value of £108,000 were issued in the year ending 30th June, 1954. Of these, three licences to a value of about £32,000 were for import from the U.S.S.R. and the remainder for import from either the U.S.S.R. or Persia. Four of the licences to a value of £86,000 covered caviare which was to be held in bond pending re-export. Caviare is not recorded separately in the trade statistics and I cannot, therefore, state from which countries caviare was imported or the weights and average prices paid.

Savoy Hotel Limited (Inquiry)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assistance was given by Her Majesty's Government, directly or indirectly, to enable the directors of the Savoy Hotel Limited to purchase the company's stock controlled by Mr. Harold Samuel, referred to in the report of Mr. Milner Holland.

Treasury consent to the borrowing of money for this purchase was required and was given. No financial assistance was given in any form.

Civil Servants (Dismissals)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many civil servants have been dismissed for misconduct or incompetence in each of the last 10 years.

There are no central records containing this information for years before 1950. I am arranging to collect the figures for 1950 and later years and will write to my hon. Friend when I have done so.


Dispossession And Supervision


asked the Minister of Agriculture if, in view of the revelation in the Crichel Down case, he will order an investigation presided over by three Queen's Counsel to investigate all cases of dispossessed farmers.

No. Farmers whom county agricultural executive committees, as my agents, propose should be dispossessed under the Agriculture Act, 1947, on grounds of bad husbandry, have the right to make representations to the committee concerned. If the proposal to dispossess is confirmed, a case can, if the farmer so desires, be referred to the independent agricultural land tribunal. I am satisfied that these arrangements provide adequate safeguards.


asked the Minister of Agriculture to state, at the latest convenient date, the number of farmers and smallholders who are in process of being dispossessed by his authority or are under supervision, respectively.

Dispossession orders on grounds of bad husbandry relating to 13 farmers are due to take effect in a matter of months, and I shall make two further dispossession orders shortly. Compulsory acquisition of land on grounds of bad estate management under Section 16 (1) of the Agriculture Act, 1947, is proceeding in the case of 10 landowners and in one other case a certificate enabling me to acquire the land will shortly be made. Nine hundred and thirty-one farmers and 379 owners are at present under supervision.

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will take steps to see that citizens have the right to appeal to a traditional court of law on matters of law, fact and merit, in view of the disclosures made in the Crichel Down inquiry, and the disclosures revealed in the Odlum v. Straton case; and if he will take steps to ensure that opportunity shall exist for appeal against the judgment of the Executive.

I assume my hon. Friend has in mind the exercise of powers of dispossession and compulsory purchase on grounds of bad husbandry and bad estate management respectively under Part II of the Agriculture Act, 1947, and powers of compulsory purchase of requisitioned land under Section 85 of that Act. Parties materially affected by a proposal to use those powers have the right to refer the matter to the independent agricultural land tribunals, who consider the facts de novo and make a final decision. The Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act which received Royal Assent on 4th June will allow parties to request that questions of law arising before these tribunals should be referred to the High Court. These provisions will come into effect at an early date. I consider that the tribunals are more appropriate bodies to deal with matters of fact and merit.

Mechanical Equipment (Annual Investment)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what estimate he has made, based on the 1954 machinery census, of the annual rate of investment in mechanical equipment on British farms.

The machinery census does not of itself afford an estimate of annual investment. Other information suggests that current purchases by farmers in the United Kingdom are running at an annual rate between £45 and £50 million. Although the greater part of this is for the replacement of old machines, there appears to be some net increase.

Sugar-Beet Factory (Southern England)


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will now make a statement upon the findings of the inter-Departmental committee set up to consider the building of a sugar-beet factory in the south of England.

Land Ownership And Management


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many acres are owned by the Forestry Commission, the Commissioner of Crown Lands and the Land Commission, respectively.

None of these bodies owns land. The Forestry Commission manages about 1,642,000 acres of land vested in the Secretary of State for Scotland or myself. The Commissioners of Crown Lands administer the hereditary estates of the Crown and the area under their management is about 379,000 acres. The Agricultural Land Commission manage about 226,000 acres of land vested in me or for the management of which I am responsible.

Crichel Down


asked the Minister of Agriculture at what date he became aware of the fact that Crichel Down was acquired compulsorily.

I knew in October, 1952, that the 15 acres belonging to Mr. Hooper was purchased compulsorily, and in October. 1953. that the remainder of the area had been purchased under threat of compulsion.

97, 98 and 99.

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) at what date he or the Parliamentary Secretary saw the letter which Mr. Hole wrote to Mr. Payne on 14th October, 1952; and if he will place a copy in the Library(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of the report made by the Parliamentary Secretary after his visit to Crichel Down on 15th November, 1952; and if he will state at what date he and the hon. Member for the Guildford Division of Surrey saw the report;

(3) if he will place a copy of the communication from Mr. Wilcox to Mr. Eastwood, which followed the meeting between him and Sir Frederick Burrows on 17th February, 1953, regarding Crichel Down, in the Library.

These three documents are included in the sets of documents which have already been placed in the Library. The letter of 14th October, 1952, was referred to me on 17th October, 1952. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary in another place sent me his report and a copy to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary in this House, on 19th November, 1952.



asked the Minister of Agriculture what evidence he now has of the deliberate spread of myxomatosis amongst rabbits in this country; and, in view of the sufferings thereby inflicted on such animals, what immediate steps he is contemplating to stop this practice.


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will make an order under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950, prohibiting the deliberate spreading of myxomatosis.

I have heard and read reports that deliberate attempts are being made by some farmers to spread myxomatosis amongst wild rabbits but I have no evidence of this having been done. I am asking the Myxomatosis Advisory Committee to consider the matter when it meets later this month.

Horticulture (Marketing Plan)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will consider introducing a plan for the marketing of horticultural produce on similar lines to those adopted by the Fatstock Marketing Corporation.

The Fatstock Marketing Corporation was promoted by representatives of producers, and it would equally be for representatives of growers to take the initiative in preparing a similar plan for horticulture if they considered it to be desirable.

Holdings (Electricity Supply)

asked the Minister of Agriculture the percentage of farm holdings in each of the counties in Wales which are now supplied with electricity, as compared with the figures in the National Farm Survey, 1941–43; and the comparative figures for Wales and England.

County figures are not available. In the whole of Wales just over 9 per cent. of holdings had a public supply of electricity at the time of the National Farm Survey. The percentage on the 31st March, 1954, was 26·5. The comparable figures for England are 27 per cent. and 59·5 per cent., respectively.

Fatstock Marketing Scheme

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is yet in a position to state whether the promoters have decided to proceed with the Fatstock Marketing Scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Acts. 1931–1949.

Yes. I have now been informed that the promoters wish to proceed with the Fatstock Marketing Scheme.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can now state when the inquiry into the objections lodged with him to the Fatstock Marketing Scheme will be held.

A public inquiry will be held but I cannot yet state the exact date.

Requisitioned Land

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many properties and estates, in addition to those held under requisition by his Department, are held by the Forestry Commissioners and the Commissioners of Crown Lands; if he will order a new investigation into the circumstances of each case; and if he will make a statement.

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to properties and estates held under requisition. There are no such properties held by the Forestry Commission or by the Commissioners of Crown Lands. The last part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Home-Grown Timber (Advisory Committee)


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many times the Advisory Committee on the Utilisation of Home-Grown Timber has met since 1st January, 1954, when it proposes to meet next; and whether any report of its proceedings has been published this yew.

The committee has not met this year, but work on research projects initiated by the committee has continued throughout the year; progress will be reported at the next meeting in October. Studies undertaken by a committee of this nature call for very detailed investigation, and frequent reports on progress serve no useful purpose. Proceedings of the committee are not published, but reports on special investigations made under its direction are published by the Forestry Commission.

Coracle Fishing, River Teifi


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is in a position to make a further statement regarding coracle fishing on the River Teifi.

My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has discussed the problem with the South West Wales River Board and with representatives of the netsmen and of the riparian owners, but I regret that no solution acceptable to all the parties has emerged.

Public Conveniences (Washing Facilities)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will take steps to make it an obligation upon all local authorities to provide, free of charge to both sexes, public conveniences with facilities for washing and drying the hands.

Atmospheric Pollution


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, how soon, in view of the number of deaths that arise through cancer, he expects to receive a report from the Medical Research Council on the extent to which fumes and smoke from fuel oils contribute to the causes of this disease.

The Medical Research Council are at present investigating a number of aspects of atmospheric pollution, including the effects of fumes and smoke from oils. Results will be published in the scientific Press as they become available. The investigations are necessarily of a long-term nature, and it is regretted that no estimate can be made of the date of their conclusion.

Ministry Of Works (Thames Sites)

asked the Minister of Works what property has been acquired by his Department on land reasonably adjacent to the Thames on both the North and South sides, between Vauxhall and London Bridges; and what have been the relative costs of such property on some comparable areas, either in case or on a percentage basis.

In the last five years my Department has bought two freeholds (on the North side of the River) and taken a long lease of one site (on the South side of the River) within half a mile of the Thames. The sites on the North were for offices, that on the South for industrial purposes. The difference between purchased office sites on the one hand and a leased industrial site on the other is such that the costs cannot usefully be compared.

Malayan Constitutional Changes (Agreement)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is now in a position to make a statement on the proposed constitutional changes in Malaya and the possibility of all Malayan political parties co-operating in the new proposals.

Yes. I am glad to be able to announce that, after the High Commissioner had explained the course he intends to pursue when he appoints the nominated reserve members, to whom reference is made in paragraph 31 of the Election Committee Report, the leaders of the Alliance have stated that they are prepared to co-operate with and participate in the Government at all levels as before.I am circulating below the text of the letters exchanged between the High Com missioner and Tunku Abdul Rahman on behalf of the Alliance, in which this agreement was reached. Briefly, it is the intention of the High Commissioner to consult the leaders of the majority party or parties among the elected members before making appointments to the five reserved seats.

A. High Commissioner's letter of 6th July, 1954, to Tunku Abdul Rahman

"As a result of my recent discussions with you, Colonel H. S. Lee and Dr. Ismail, I am writing to clarify the course I intend to pursue when appointing nominated reserve' members, to whom reference is made in paragraph 31 of the Election Committee Report.

These members are not to be appointed by me until the election is completed and the appointments are to be made in the light of the result of that election. Apart from the officials, whom all are agreed should fill two of these seats, the primary purpose of these members is to give a voice in the Council to any important element which had not found adequate representation in the Council through the electoral process. In giving effect to this purpose it would. I believe, be inappropriate for me to send these representatives into the Council to oppose the policy of the majority among the elected members; indeed this might well be regarded as thwarting or frustrating the wishes of the electors as expressed at the polls and as being inconsistent with promotion of that harmony and close identity between the Legislature as a whole and the Executive, which the Election Committee unanimously indicated in paragraph 106 of their Report should be the constant aim of the High Commissioner. The purpose of these seats, as well as the basic intention of the Constitution, will, I believe, be more readily and appropriately achieved by filling these seats with representatives chosen for the purposes indicated in paragraph 31 of the Report, who are not likely to find themselves out of harmony with major political opinion in the Council as reflected among the elected members, and consequently less able to inform and guide that opinion effectively.

It is therefore my intention to consult the leaders of the majority party or parties among the elected members before making appointments to these seats.

I hope that with this statement of intention, you will find yourself able to co-operate in the establishment of the new constitutional arrangements and to give your support to legislative measures which will give effect to proposals contained in Federal Council Paper No. 21 of 1954."

B. Tunku Abdul Rahman reply, dated 6th July, 1954.

"I have to thank you for your communication in regard to the course which you intend to pursue on the introduction of elections in appointing "nominated reserve" members, which I have communicated to my colleagues.

In view of this statement we are satisfied that the proposed constitutional arrangements have a reasonable prospect of working satisfactorily and the Alliance is therefore prepared to extend its support to the establishment of these arrangements and to co-operate and participate with the Government at all levels as before. We therefore trust that for this purpose members of the Alliance will be re-appointed to the various Councils, boards and committees of which they were previously members. But in this connection you will appreciate our concern that all our members who have resigned should be afforded the same consideration in order to ensure cooperation at all levels.

We do, however, feel that there are other aspects of the Federation agreement as it stands which merit further consideration and we understand that it will be Your Excellency's intention to discuss with Their Highnesses the Rulers on 15th July the request of the Alliance for a Commission to report on these matters."

C. High Commissioner's Reply to Tunku Abdul Rahman dated 7th July, 1954.

"I have to thank you for your letter of the 6th July on the subject of the constitution arrangements to provide for the introduction of elections and am glad to receive your assurance that the Alliance will give its support to the establishment of these arrangements, together with the expression of its wish to cooperate and participate with the Government as before.

In the circumstances I hope the " status quo" before the resignations will be restored as soon as possible so that the Alliance may be able to give this support and co-operation. But as the resignations have extended to councils, boards and committees in States, it will be necessary for me to consult Their Highnesses the Rulers in this regard and I intend to take the first opportunity of doing so."

Nigeria (Public Meetings)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the restrictions being placed upon the Action Group holding public meetings in the Northern Region of Nigeria and, in particular, the Ilurin Province; and what instructions he has sent to the residents of that area regarding this matter.

No special restrictions are placed on the holding of public meetings by the Action Group in the Northern Region. In referring specifically to Ilorin Province, the hon. Member presumably has in mind a meeting held by the Action Group of Offa on 19th June. A permit to hold this meeting, subject to certain conditions, was granted by the Ilorin Native Authority after due notice had been given. The answer to the last part of the Question is, "None." The Lieutenant-Governor of the Northern Region has, however, issued general instructions to residents that they should advise Native Authorities that every application for a licence to hold a meeting should be treated strictly on its merits and that no application should be refused except when there is undoubted reason to suppose that the meeting would result in a serious breach of the peace.

Canned Fruits (Home Demand)

asked the Minister of Food what estimate he has made of the home demand for canned fruits in 1955 and of the capacity of home and Commonwealth canners, respectively, to meet that demand.

It is not possible to make an accurate forecast now of supply and demand next year.

Employment, Wembley

asked the Minister of Labour how many persons in the borough of Wembley were registered as unemployed at the latest convenient date; what were the comparable figures for a year ago; and what were the respective total notified vacancies for the same dates.

The available figures relate to employment exchange areas and not to local authority areas. The number of unemployed persons on the register of the Wembley Employment Exchange at 14th June, 1954, was 209 and the number of vacancies notified to that employment exchange and remaining unfilled at 30th June was 1,201. The corresponding figures for June 1953, were 208 and 878 respectively.