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Written Answers

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 13th July, 1954

Hm Stationery Office (Envelopes And Labels)

21.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury the value of the stock of envelopes and labels bearing On His Majesty's Service which were in stock at Her Majesty's Stationery Office at the time of the death of the late King; and when he expects the stock to be exhausted.

The value of general service envelopes and labels in stock in February, 1952, was about £67,000: the residue still in stock is valued at about £860: it is expected to be exhausted within six months.In addition to general service supplies the Stationery Office holds on behalf of individual Departments a moderate-sized stock of envelopes and labels required for special purposes.

National Finance

Bedridden People's Radio Sets (Tax)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will allow a remission of Purchase Tax on radio sets purchased by a recognised national society for the use of bedridden people.

No. I regret that I cannot authorise any further exception from the principle that relief from Purchase Tax cannot be provided for particular users of chargeable goods.

Fiduciary Note Issue (Increase)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement about the fiduciary note issue.

To provide for the seasonal increase in the demand for notes, the Treasury, in agreement with the Bank of England, has directed that the fiduciary note issue shall be £1,725 million, an increase of £50 million. The Treasury Minute giving this direction will be laid before Parliament.

British Citizens, Riviera (Currency)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the large number of British citizens living for substantial periods on the Riviera at costly hotels, what inquiries are being addressed to them as to the source of foreign currency.

Inquiries are carried out in any case where there is evidence indicating a possible infringement of the Exchange Control Act, 1947.

New Tax Reserve Certificates (Interest)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what change he proposes to make in the rate of interest payable on tax reserve certificates.

Yes. I have agreed to the issue of a new tax reserve certificate (fourth series), which will bear interest at the rate of 1 per cent. per annum tax free instead of 1¼ per cent. per annum tax free, the other terms being similar to those of the current issue. The new certificates will be available as from tomorrow, when the Bank of England will issue a prospectus containing the full terms of issue.

Housing

Rent Increases (Notice And Booklet)

24.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will make available to Members copies of the form which landlords are to use for claiming rent increases under the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill: and also copies of the booklet giving advice to tenants, which he proposes to issue.

My right hon. Friend will arrange for copies to be placed in the Vote Office for the convenience of hon. Members.

Subsidies Review (Rents)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government by what amount per week he estimates that the present rent of a council house, costing £1,500 to build, will have to be increased to meet the deficiency which will arise when his proposal to reduce the present rate of house subsidy becomes operative.

I am unable to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on this subject on 6th July.

Water Supplies, Breconshire And Radnorshire

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will give information as to the joint comprehensive water supply for northern Breconshire and parts of Radnorshire; and which local authorities are now included.

The scheme is being promoted by the Llanwrtyd Wells Urban District Council and the Builth and Colwyn Rural District Councils. It will also provide for a bulk supply of water to Builth Urban District Council. The award of a provisional grant of £300,000 under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Acts, 1944 and 1951, to the promoting authorities was notified on 15th June, 1954.I am at present awaiting from those authorities the draft of an order setting up a joint board to operate the scheme.

Palace Of Westminster (Pictures And Tapestries)

43.

asked the Minister of Works whether he will consider loaning tapestries and suitable paintings to decorate the walls of the Committee Rooms, Dining Rooms, passages, &c., of the Palace of Westminster, so as in some way to make them as decorative as they were before the former rooms of the Palace were burnt down in the reign of King William IV.

I have no pictures or tapestries suitable for the Palace of Westminster. If the hon. Member knows of any donors or lenders of such works, I should be glad of the information.

59.

asked the Minister of Works if he will revise the arrangement of pictures in all the rooms of the House of Commons, with a view to seeing that great statesmen are remembered and their pictures placed in the appropriate place.

I am discussing with the authorities of the Palace of Westminster the best method of carrying out the hon. Member's suggestion.

Ministry Of Works

New Government Buildings (Parking Space)

55.

asked the Minister of Works whether he will arrange that henceforth all new Government buildings in London shall have their basements and/or ground floors constructed as parking places for cars.

Parking space is now normally provided either above or below ground for major new Government office buildings in London.

Statues, London (Removal)

56.

asked the Minister of Works if he will take steps to remove from London unsightly statues for which his Department is responsible, which are no longer of historic interest.

Uranium Supplies

57.

asked the Minister of Works how much Her Majesty's Government are offering prospectors per ton for uranium; and whether he is satisfied that uranium supplies will be sufficient to meet the demands of the British atomic project for as far as can be seen ahead.

There has been a standing offer for some years to purchase uranium minerals from Colonial Territories at prices dependent upon oxide content and other circumstances. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of an extract from the "Prospector's Guide to Radioactive Mineral Deposits," published by the Geological Survey, which gives details of the offer. So far, however, no large and economically workable deposits of uranium have been discovered in the Colonies. The United Kingdom obtains its uranium at present from Commonwealth and foreign countries through the joint Anglo-American purchasing arrangements, which are working satisfactorily.So far as the future is concerned, I would refer my hon. Friend to my answer to the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman), on 16th March, to which I can at present add nothing.

Cement Industry (Expansion)

58.

asked the Minister of Works what steps he is taking to ensure the expansion of the British cement industry, in view of the annual recurring shortage, particularly in South Wales.

The output of cement has grown steadily since the war and is still expanding. Among the new works or extensions now under construction one at Westbury, Wiltshire, should greatly ease the problem of supplying demands in the South-West and in Wales.

Atomic Energy Authority (Membership)

asked the Minister of Works whether he will announce the eighth and last member of the new Atomic Energy Authority.

My noble Friend the Lord President of the Council has announced his intention of appointing a further member to the Atomic Energy Authority, but no decision has yet been made.

Nuclear Research (European Organisation)

60.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what progress has been made regarding the establishment of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

The setting up of the permanent Organisation for Nuclear Research requires the deposit of a specified number of ratifications of the Convention which was signed in Paris on 1st July, 1953. A few ratifications have still to be deposited before the Convention can come into force. Meanwhile, the interim organisation is proceeding with designing and other preparatory work.

Research Department (Building Programme)

61.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, the building programme planned for the Departments of Scientific and Industrial Research this year; and what is now estimated to be the cost of the building work executed this financial year.

The total provision made in the 1954–55 Estimates of the Ministry of Works for the building programme of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, other than maintenance, is £916,060. It is estimated that building work to approximately this value will be executed in the financial year.

Nature Conservancy (Staff)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, how many of the total staff employed by the Nature Conservancy are employed at the Conservancy's headquarters in London; and how many elsewhere.

The total staff at the present date is 108, of whom 45 are employed at the London headquarters.

Employment

Wales And Scotland

62.

asked the Minister of Labour what action he is taking to reduce the number of unemployed men and women in Wales and Scotland, in view of the fact that the figure is about twice the average in these two countries compared to that of England.

My right hon. and learned Friend and other Ministers concerned will continue to take active steps to encourage the expansion of employment in all parts of Great Britain where unemployment remains relatively high. Unemployment in Wales and Scotland, though still higher than in England, has been falling in recent months and in Wales it is now at its lowest since the war.

Middlesex

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the unemployment figures for the county of Middlesex for July, 1951, 1952, 1953 and at the latest convenient date; and what were the notified vacancies on those dates.

NUMBERS OF PERSONS REGISTERED AS UNEMPLOYED AND NUMBERS OF NOTIFIED VACANCIES REMAINING UNFILLED AT EMPLOYMENT EXCHANGES IN MIDDLESEX AT THE UNDERMENTIONED DATES
Persons registered as unemployedNotified vacancies remaining unfilled
DateNumberDateNumber
16th July, 19513,3264th July, 195129,528
14th July, 19528,4792nd July, 195214,165
13th July, 19536,3701st July, 195316,750
14th June, 19544,99530th June, 195421,510

National Service (Ex-Students, Camborne)

63.

asked the Minister of Labour how many ex-students of the Camborne School of Metalliferous Mining have evaded National Service in each of the last three years by taking mining appointments abroad soon after the completion of their final examinations, even though they had been granted deferment to enable them to complete their studies.

The number of ex-students at this school who went abroad shortly after their final examination and before undertaking their National Service was 12 in 1951, 12 in 1952 and 9 in 1953. Three of the men who went abroad in 1951 have since returned to this country and have joined the Forces.

Scotland

Health Centre, Glenrothes

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about the proposed health centre to be established at Glenrothes, Fife.

Investment Company's Houses (Subsidy)

66.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if his attention has been called to a letter issued by the Western Heritable Investment Company, Limited, in which they indicate that they hope to be in a position to arrange occupation on a basis of sale; and, as the houses built by this company were aided by national and local authority subsidy and, as this is contrary to his declared decision not to

The following table gives the information desired:sanction the sale of these houses, what steps he proposes to take in this matter.

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the 94 houses belonging to Western Heritable Investment Company, Glasgow, which have been untenanted for a considerable period, have yet been occupied; if the payment of the Exchequer and local subsidy contributions have been discontinued during the period of unoccupancy; and what arrangement he has agreed to with the company that will permit the parties who occupy the houses to become the ultimate purchasers.

The Corporation of Glasgow have discontinued the payment of subsidy to the company for 206 of their houses now unoccupied and my right hon. Friend has arranged to discontinue the payment of Exchequer contributions to the corporation for these houses. He has not agreed to any arrangement such as that referred to by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes).As the company have now instituted legal proceedings, it would be improper for me to make any further statement at the present time.

Local Authorities (Derating Losses)

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations were made to him recently by three Scottish local authority associations on the losses which they sustain through de-rating; and what was his reply.

On 2nd July the Minister of State, Scottish Office, received a deputation from the associations who urged that compensation for the loss of rateable value due to de-rating should be given without delay. The Minister promised careful consideration of the views expressed, and repeated the assurance that the equalisation grant arrangements in Scotland will be further reviewed when Lord Sorn's Committee on valuation and rating have reported and the result of the revaluation now being carried out in England and Wales is known.

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that Glasgow Corporation lose £1 million per annum owing to derating, and that no existing Exchequer grant assists them in meeting this loss; and what action he will take to enable Glasgow to recover this loss.

My right hon. Friend is aware of the position in Glasgow and, as regards the last part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I have given to his previous question.

British Army

Fatal Accident, Breconshire

71.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the accident which caused the death of a sergeant in the 389th Light Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army, near the Sennybridge Range, Breconshire, on 17th June and the rider of the jury to the effect that the driver of the Bren-gun carrier had not driven such a vehicle for two years; and whether he will make a statement.

Yes. Care is taken to ensure that drivers get practice before taking part in exercises. This driver who had had 21 months' experience as a carrier driver during his whole-time service was given refresher training in April and May this year and had been driving this carrier for four days at camp before this accident. I am satisfied that the accident was not due to inexperience.

Personal Case

72.

asked the Secretary of State for War the present condition of T/22692515 Lance-Corporal Donald William Hooker, in hospital at British Military Hospital, Rinteln, British Army of the Rhine, 38; why his family have received no communication about him from the hospital, as promised by Records Office, Hastings, on 25th June; and whether they can visit him, as he is on the danger list, or whether he can be flown to Engand, since he is due for demobilisation on 15th July.

My hon. Friend will now have my letter about this case and know of the decision to fly this soldier back to this country.

Reme, Middle East Land Forces (Complaints)

73.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will investigate complaints, details of which have been sent to him, that personnel of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, No. 2 Base Workshops, Middle East Land Forces, are ordered compulsory sport while it is too hot to work; and in particular, the case of the soldier who died as a result of a route march in heat conditions.

I have been unable to trace the details referred to or any other similar complaints, but from inquiries I have made of this unit I can find no basis for this complaint or of the statement that a soldier died as a result of a route march.

Raid, Armagh Barracks (Report)

74.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has yet received the report of the Army authorities inquiring into the recent raid upon Armagh Barracks, and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has received the proceedings of the court of inquiry. I cannot, however, make a statement at present as disciplinary action may arise from the findings of the court.

National Service Men, Kenya

asked the Secretary of State for War how many National Service men have served in Kenya since the emergency began in the autumn of 1952; how many are now serving as officers and in the ranks; whether he is satisfied as to the value of the training they have received; and how many of them have expressed a desire to enter the newly-named Oversea Civil Service after they have completed their military training.

Just over 4,000 National Service personnel have served in Kenya. At present, there are 160 National Service officers and 2,293 National Service other ranks serving there. My right hon. Friend has no reason to doubt the adequacy of their training.I regret that the details asked for in the last part of the Question are not readily available.

Trade And Commerce

Film Quotas (Prosecutions)

75.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many prosecutions have now been initiated against film quota defaulters for the year 1951–52; in how many cases they have been found guilty; how many of those found guilty are owners of five cinemas or less; and what penalties have been imposed.

Proceedings have so far been instituted in 10 cases. Seven cases have been heard and there have been five convictions. In four of these five cases the exhibitor controlled five cinemas or less. There was one fine of £25 and 7 guineas costs, one of £20 and 10 guineas costs, two fines of £5, and one of £5 and £20 costs.

76.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many proceedings he will take against first-feature film quota defaulters for the year 1952–53 in relation to the number of such defaults in that year.

Trading Estate Factories (Rents)

77.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what change has been made in assessing the amount of rent to be paid by firms on trading estates; and for what reason the change has been made.

There has been no change in the policy of assessing the rents of factories on the trading estates.

New Factory Building

78 and 80.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) the number of new manufacturing enterprises started in Scotland with Government aid and with private capital, respectively, from 1950 up to the latest available date;(2) the number of new manufacturing enterprises started in Scotland by non-Scottish firms, new Scottish firms and established Scottish firms, respectively, from 1950 up to the latest available date.

79.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give figures of approvals of new factory building and extensions for Scotland and Great Britain, respectively, during the first quarter of 1954.

My right hon. Friend regrets that incorrect figures were given in the answer to my hon. Friend's Question on 29th June. The correct figures are: Scotland 37 approvals at an estimated total value of £1·58 million; and Great Britain 612 approvals at an estimated total value of £29·68 million.

East-West Trade (Anglo-American Talks)

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on his official talks with Mr. Stassen in Washington.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which my right hon. Friend made this afternoon.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is in a position to make a statement on the outcome of his talks with Mr. Harold Stassen in the United States of America.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement which my right hon. Friend made this afternoon.

Cotton (Stocks)

82.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what stocks of cotton were held and owned by the Raw Cotton Commission on the nearest available date.

On 3rd July, 1954, the Raw Cotton Commission's stocks amounted to 101,608 tons in the United Kingdom and 31,726 tons purchased but not yet arrived. A considerable proportion of these stocks has already been sold for forward delivery, but it is not the Commission's normal practice to divulge the amount of such sales.

Copyright Act

83.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will take steps to amend the Copyright Act, so as to prevent authors or composers, or the Performing Right Society, acting on their behalf, from obtaining fees from innkeepers or hotel keepers who permit their guests to listen to television or radio programmes.

United States Publications (Dollar Expenditure)

84.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the annual dollar expenditure on periodicals and comic papers imported into this country from the United States of America.

The declared value of bulk imports of newspapers and periodicals from the United States in 1953 was £773,421. This figure excludes imports by post, the value of which is not known. Bulk imports of what are usually known as comics are not licensed.

Surplus Foreign Food (Imports)

85.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will ensure that surplus foreign food products will not be off-loaded on to the home market at the expense of producers in the Commonwealth; and what steps he will take to that end.

Import arrangements have been made where necessary to ensure that foodstuffs purchased with funds made available under Section 550 of the Mutual Security Act will not displace normal trade.

Hire-Purchase Orders (Revocation)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is yet in a position to make a statement about the future of the Hire-Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Orders.

I have made an Order, coming into operation on the 14th July, revoking the Hire-Purchase and Credit Sale Agreements (Control) Orders.

Crichel Down

86.

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he and the Parliamentary Secretary became aware of the discrepancies in the accounts of the way in which Crichel Down was originally acquired; and what action he and the Parliamentary Secretary took on becoming aware of it.

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Mr. Crouch) on 8th July. As regards the last part, I will be dealing with the history of the case in some detail in the forthcoming debate.

Ministry Of Food

Us Canned Goods

87.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the concern that is felt by the canning industry in the United Kingdom at the threat to their livelihood by canned goods continuing to be supplied to this country by the United States of America under the Mutual Security Act; and what action he proposes to take.

This canned fruit represents only about 3·9 per cent. of our total supplies. My right hon. and gallant Friend does not consider that this constitutes a threat to the home canning industry.

Lemons

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that lemons are now scarce in Britain, and are likely to become more so, and thereby more expensive, until the new crop is available in the late autumn; and whether he will take steps to facilitate the importation of lemons from the United States of America to cover this period by permitting this fruit to share with oranges and grapefruit in the allocation of the funds earmarked for this trade.

I am aware that supplies of lemons are less than usual this summer. Arrangements have now been made for the importation from the United States of America of some fresh lemons under the Mutual Security Aid Programme.