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Written Answers

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 15 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 15th July, 1954

Ministry Of Health

Mental Defectives, Durham (Accommodation)

23.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the scarcity of institutional accommodation for persons of weak intellect in the county of Durham; and what is the prospect of adequate provision.

I am aware of the shortage. I cannot say when it will be possible to meet all needs, but steady progess is being made within the limits of the available resources.

Hospital Farms

24.

asked the Minister of Health whether he intends to close farms run in connection with hospitals even when these are connected with mental homes and as such form a valuable part of the treatment of mental patients.

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the circular I have issued to hospital authorities on this matter, from which he will see that one of the factors they are particularly asked to bear in mind in reviewing the need for hospital farms is the provision of suitable occupation for patients.

Dental Practitioners

asked the Minister of Health how many dental practitioners are named in the Dentists Register for the area of England and Wales; how many of these practitioners are estimated to be available for dental practice; and how many of them are engaged, respectively, in the general practitioner service of the National Health Service, the hospital dental service, on a full-time basis, and the local authority dental service, excluding the school dental service, on a full-time basis.

At 1st January, 1954, the Dentists Register contained the names of 12,941 dentists with addresses in England and Wales of whom it is estimated that some 11,000 were available for dental practice in England and Wales. Approximately 9,500 were engaged in the general dental service and 145 were engaged full-time in the hospital service. Most dentists in the local health authority service are also employed in the school health service. At 31st December, 1953, the equivalent of 142 whole-time dentists were employed in the local health authority service.

Tonsil And Adenoid Operations, Manchester

asked the Minister of Health the number of children awaiting admission for tonsil and adenoid operations at the Park Hospital, Davyhulme, Manchester; and what is the average waiting period.

I am informed that the number waiting is 322 and that the waiting time is 12 to 15 months for children up to eight years of age and 18 to 20 months for those over eight.

Education

"No Parking" Sign, Curzon Street

43.

asked the Minister of Education why the sign, "No parking by order," is placed in the roadway outside the offices of her Department in Curzon Street, W.1; and on whose authority the sign was so placed.

Small moveable signs have been used by my Department in the hope of providing reasonable access for cars and vans during office hours in this very congested area. Their use has now been discontinued.

Roman Catholic School, Gateshead

50.

asked the Minister of Education the reasons for her refusal to approve the building of a Roman Catholic grammar school in the county borough of Gateshead.

I agreed with the local education authority that their building programme for this year and next should be concentrated on providing secondary modern schools needed for the increasing number of senior children in the area.

School Dentists

53.

asked the Minister of Education the number of school dentists in England and Wales at 31st March, 1954, or at any later date that may be available.

The equivalent of 960 full-time dentists were working in the school dental service in England and Wales on 30th June, 1954.

asked the Minister of Education how many dental practitioners are at present employed on a full-time basis for the school dental service in England and Wales, respectively.

I am not able to say how many full-time officers are employed exclusively on school dental work, but on 30th June, 1954, the equivalent of 903 full-time officers were employed by local education authorities in England and the equivalent of 57 by local education authorities in Wales. These figures are made up of 856 and 55 school dental officers, equivalent to 770 and 48 full-time officers, employed on a full-time or part-time salary basis, and a further 476 and 31 dentists, equivalent to 133 and nine full-time officers, employed part-time on a sessional basis.

Food Poisoning

58.

asked the Minister of Education the total number of outbreaks of food poisoning in the schools meals service for 1952, 1953 and for the latest available date in the present year.

Science Museum (Planetarium)

56.

asked the Minister of Education whether she will set up a committee to work out plans for the early construction of a planetarium in this country.

No: but I would refer to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) on the 1st July.

asked the Minister of Education if she will set up a committee to consider possible alternative sites for a planetarium.

School Buildings (Improvements)

59.

asked the Minister of Education how much money is to be allocated in this financial year to the improvement of existing school buildings.

The total allocation to local education authorities in England and Wales for minor works in the current financial year is £5·8 million, which is about 20 per cent. more than last year. Of this I expect that approximately £2·5 million will be spent on improvements to existing primary and secondary schools, as distinct from enlargements providing additional places.

Technical Teachers' Salaries

60 and 61.

asked the Minister of Education (1) whether she will meet a deputation from the Association of Teachers of Technical Institutions regarding technical teachers' salaries;(2) what steps she now proposes to take to end the deadlock on the Burnham Technical Committee.

I understand that the Burnham Technical Committee is to meet shortly, and I will consider immediately any recommendation that they may submit to me. I could not properly receive a deputation from the Association mentioned in the Questions because any discussion with them would inevitably suggest that I was seeking to advise the Committee as to the line to be taken in its negotiations.

Bec Grammar School, Wandsworth

63.

asked the Minister of Education why she has refused to permit the London County Council to enlarge the Bec Grammar School into a comprehensive school.

I considered the London County Council's arguments in support of their proposal to provide an additional 1,500 secondary school places in Wandsworth by enlarging the Bec Grammar School to form a comprehensive school for about 2,000 boys. I studied the many objections received, the grounds on which they were made, and the Authority's observations on these objections. After taking into account the reputation of the Bec School, and the success with which it has served its purpose as a grammar school, I concluded that it would not be educationally advantageous to provide 1,500 additional places in the form proposed.

Canada And United States (Trade Liberalisation)

65.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the present percentage of liberalisation of our trade with the United States of America and Canada; and what further licensing restrictions on imports from Canada have been lifted since his visit to that country.

About half our imports from Canada and the United States are free from import restrictions. No restrictions on imports of which Canada is an important supplier have been removed since my right hon. Friend returned from Canada. It is our intention to relax existing restrictions as and when our balance of payments situation allows. Since the hon. Member asked a similar Question on 27th May, we have, among other measures, made arrangements for imports by private traders of North American cheese, and canned salmon which benefit Canadian suppliers.

Continental Day Trips (Duty-Free Goods)

67.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why day trippers from Newhaven to Dieppe or Boulogne travelling by private enterprise pleasure steamers are to be refused the Customs concessions given to persons who travel from Newhaven to Dieppe or Boulogne on 24-hour trips organised by British Railways; and whether he will take immediate steps to ensure that such day trippers are granted similar Customs concessions.

As explained by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 13th July, day trippers are not entitled to the Customs concessions made to foreign tourists and our own nationals returning from travel abroad. There is, of course, no discrimination between one kind of service and another.

Civil Servants (Council Meetings)

68.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Tresury if he is aware that although a non-industrial civil servant is eligible to become a member of a local authority, there is no provision made to allow him absence from duty to attend council meetings; and if he will take steps to correct this position.

Civil servants who become members of a local authority are allowed special leave at Departmental discretion for attendance at council meetings. Normally, special leave with pay is allowed up to a maximum of 12 days (or the equivalent) in a year. In exercising their discretion Departments must, of course, bear in mind the needs of the public service.

Land Registry

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the difficulty which would be caused to the legal profession, it is still the intention of the Government to remove the Land Registry to Durham.

The Government have decided that, as the Land Registry in London functions mainly as a district registry for London and adjacent areas, it should not be removed to Durham.

Agriculture

Travelling Scholarships

69.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether there are any travelling scholarships offered by his Department which enable young men already farming to make a direct study of farming practice in other countries, or whether he will consider introducing such a scheme.

My Department does not itself offer travelling scholarships for young farmers to study farming in other countries. I do not think that such scholarships are needed in view of the facilities which are already offered by other organisations, some of which receive grants from the Department.

Crown Estate Paving Commission

70.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how often meetings of the Crown Estate Paving Commission are held; and what was the date on which his Department was last represented at a meeting of the Commission.

The routine meetings of the Crown Estate Paving Commission are held monthly except during August and September, and the senior Ministers who are members do not normally attend. My Department as such is not represented on it, and the latter part of the Question does not therefore arise.

Myxomatosis

72.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, in view of the deliberate spreading of myxomatosis on a wholesale scale throughout many areas of the country and the suffering being inflicted thereby on the rabbits involved, whether he will recommend other methods of destroying these animals, such as by humane trapping, gassing or netting; and whether he will take steps to prohibit the further spreading of this disease.

All humane methods of destroying rabbits have been and will continue to be recommended. As regards the last part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Members for Nottingham, East (Mr. J. Harrison) and Billericay (Mr. Braine) on 8th July.

75.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how much further myxomatosis has spread among rabbits in the last fortnight; and how many cases have been confirmed North of the Border.

During the past fortnight outbreaks of myxomatosis in wild rabbits have been confirmed in Breconshire, Caernarvonshire, Carmathenshire, Dorset, Flintshire, Herefordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire; and I understand that the first outbreak North of the Border was confirmed on Tuesday this week in Kincardineshire.

Cherries And Broccoli (Marking Order)

74.

asked the Minister of Agriculture when the findings of the public inquiry into an application by the National Farmers' Union for a marking order for imported cherries and broccoli will be made known; and whether he has reached a decision as to whether an order shall be made.

I understand that the Standing Committee which held this inquiry hopes to submit its report in the next few days. The Committee's recommendations will then be considered and arrangements made for the report to be published and laid before Parliament.

Land, Peacehaven

77.

asked the Minister of Agriculture when the hon. Member for Heeley is likely to get a reply to the letter addressed to him on 17th June, about the action of the Agricultural Land Commission over land at Peacehaven.

Poultry Losses, Norfolk (Foxes)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if his attention has been called to the increasing destruction of poultry in Norfolk caused by foxes; and what special measures are being taken by his Department to deal with this problem.

I have seen a Press report suggesting increasing destruction of poultry by foxes in Norfolk, but I am informed by the county agricultural executive committee that all cases reported to them have been dealt with satisfactorily. If farmers are in difficulty over foxes they should get into touch with the county pests officer.

Dee And Clwyd Fishery Board (Prosecutions)

73.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many prosecutions have been undertaken by the Rivers Dee and Clwyd Fishery Board, at Llangollen magistrates' court, under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act, 1923, during the past five years; and in how many of these cases the board has obtained a conviction.

There was one unsuccessful prosecution in June, 1949. Since then the Dee and Clwyd River Board have undertaken eight prosecutions before this court and in each of these a conviction was obtained.

Coastal Flooding (Committee's Report)

76.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether Her Majesty's Government has come to any decision in regard to implementing the recommendations of the Waverley Report on Coastal Flooding; and what Ministries will be concerned with any prospective legislation or other action.

With regard to the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) on 3rd June. As to the second part, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, as the Minister responsible for coast protection, and I, as the Minister responsible for the prevention of flooding of low-lying land, will be concerned with any legislation or other action that may arise from the Waverley Committee's recommendations.

Welsh Ports (Report)

78.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the report of the Council of Wales about the position and prospects of the Welsh ports.

I understand that the Council hope to submit a report in the autumn of this year.

Home Department

Accused Persons, Liverpool

79.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many accused persons who would normally have been tried by the Liverpool stipendiary magistrate have elected to go for trial during the six months ended 30th June, 1954; and what are the comparative figures for Birmingham and Manchester.

Dr Otto Strasser (Visa)

80.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in refusing admission to the United Kingdom to Dr. Otto Strasser, he took into account the fact that on 2nd October, 1940, the British Embassy in Lisbon smuggled Dr. Otto Strasser out of Portugal, paying his passage to Bermuda, and then on to Canada; and that, during the greater part of this escape from the Gestapo, Dr. Strasser travelled on a British passport under the name of Mr. Oswald Bostock, provided by Her Majesty's authorities.

In deciding that a visa should not be granted to Dr. Strasser, I took all relevant considerations into account.

Civil Defence (Scottish-English Border)

81.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements now exist for co-operation in Civil Defence between Scotland and England on or near the border in the event of need; and whether the commander in chief of mobile reserve will have operational authority throughout the United Kingdom.

Reinforcement by Civil Defence services across the border, in war, would be organised between the Regional Commissioner, Northern Region, on the one hand, and the Scottish Central Control on the other. The authority of the Commander-in-Chief, Mobile Forces, will be the same in Scotland as in England.

Usa Service Man (Paternity Claim)

82.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why his Department stated in a letter dated 25th May, reference CRI 270/1/4, that a United States service man, against whom a paternity claim was pending, was still in this country, although his Department had been informed by the Foreign Office on 13th April that this man had left for the United States, and that the case was to be dealt with by the Foreign Office.

I regret that by an unfortunate mistake a telephone message from the Foreign Office conveying the information in question was not conveyed to the officer dealing with this case.

Neglected Children (Care)

83.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the result of consultations between his officers and representatives of local authority associations regarding an amendment of the law to give local authorities wider powers in connection with the care of neglected children by preventing the break-up of families and by rehabilitation; and if he will make a statement.

This subject, which concerns several Departments, will be borne in mind when appropriate legislation is in prospect, but I have no proposals for legislation in view at present.

Jury Service

84.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the Lord Chief Justice's comments on the strain to which jurors are subjected in protracted assize cases; and whether he will consider the suggestion that juries should be reduced from 12 to seven as during the last war.

I have taken note of the Lord Chief Justice's observations, and I shall bear them in mind, but legislation would be necessary to enable the change referred to by my hon. Friend to be made, and I can hold out no hope of early legislation on this subject.

Parliamentary Electors

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the total number of registered electors in Great Britain and Northern Ireland as at 15th March, 1954, and the size of the electorate, on the same date, comprised in London boroughs, English boroughs. Welsh boroughs, English counties, Welsh counties and Northern Ireland, respectively.

The total number of Parliamentary electors in the United Kingdom in the 1954 register is 35,017,235. In the 1953 register, from which the electoral quota is calculated for the purpose of the current general review of constituencies, the number was 35,000,855. The detailed figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are as follows:

19541953
Borough constituencies:
London2,401,2552,425,167
England (excluding London and Monmouthshire)14,372,81714,419,215
Wales and Monmouthshire541,823541,743
County constituencies:
England (excluding Monmouthshire)12,146,90912,059,650
Wales and Monmouthshire1,272,4771,271,345
Northern Ireland874,701875,958

Indecent Assaults (Children)

85.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the inadequate penalties for improper assaults on young children; and if he will introduce legislation to provide for a minimum penalty of imprisonment.

As I explained in answer to a Question by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) on 1st April. I have taken note of proposals for increasing the maximum penalties for indecent assault, but cannot say when it may be possible to introduce legislation on this subject. A provision for minimum penalties would be alien from the traditions of our law. It is for the court, in its discretion, to decide the appropriate penalty having regard to the circumstances of the offence and of the offender in each individual case.

Shops Legislation (Representations)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what comments from the various trade organisations concerned have been received by him in connection with the suggested provisions for amending shops legislation which were published by his Department last year; what procedure will be followed before the necessary legislation is drafted; and when he anticipates it will be introduced.

I have received comments on many points from 58 organisations. I am reviewing the suggested provisions in the light of these comments, and if anything fresh emerges the organisations particularly affected will be consulted again. I regret that I cannot say when it will be possible to introduce legislation.

Approved Schools For Girls

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what regulations govern punishments in approved schools catering for girls; whether these regulations require records to be kept of punishment involving solitary confinement; and what provision is made for the regular inspection of such records.

Punishments in approved schools for girls are governed by the relevant provisions of the Approved School Rules, 1933. The headmistress is responsible, under the Rules, for recording all serious punishment in the punishment book, which is required to be examined, and signed by the chairman, at each meeting of the school managers, and shown to the school doctor at least once a quarter, and which is examined by inspectors of the Home Office Children's Department during visits. The inspectors also examine quarterly returns from the schools of all punishments other than those of a trivial nature.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the names of approved schools which take girls of secondary school age; where they are situated; and for how many girls each school caters.

All the 39 approved schools for girls in England and Wales, which are classified according to age on admission, accommodate some girls of secondary school age. Particulars of the schools are contained in the Directory of Remand Homes, Approved Schools and Probation Hostels and Homes in England and Wales, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why detention cells are sanctioned in approved schools catering for girls of secondary school age; in how many schools they are provided; what records are required of their use; and how often these records are inspected, and by whom.

Approved schools for girls generally have a room—sometimes the sick room—in which a hysterical or particularly refractory girl may be isolated for a time, subject to the safeguards provided in the Approved School Rules. At one school accepting specially difficult senior girls there are three detention rooms, the use of which is required to be in accordance with the Rules. With regard to records of use, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his earlier Question.

A V Roe & Co, Middleton (Housing Agreement)

87.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government the nature of the inquiries he made, and from whom information was obtained outside his Department, before he satisfied himself that Middleton council houses were not tied to specific employment; and whether he saw a copy of the agreements between the council and Messrs. A. V. Roe and Company Limited, and between the company and the occupying tenants before so satisfying himself.

I received assurances from the council which were sufficient to satisfy me that these houses were not tied to the employment. No agreement between Messrs. A. V. Roe Limited and the occupants of these houses can affect the tenancy conditions which, I understand, the council impose upon these and all other council-owned houses.

88.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will place in the Library of the House of Commons the copy of the agreement between the Middleton Council, Lancashire, and Messrs. A. V. Roe and Company Limited, relating to the tenancy of 90 municipally-owned houses which he examined prior to satisfying himself that this corporation's responsibilities under the Housing Act were being honoured.

I have told the Middleton council that I am advised that the agreement they entered into with Messrs. A. V. Roe Limited is of doubtful legality in some respects, and I understand that they are considering the matter. I do not think I would be justified in putting a copy of this agreement in the Library of the House without the council's permission.

Transport

The Highlands

89.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware of the special disadvantages under which the Highland area suffers in regard to transport, which discourages trade, industry and agriculture and prevents this large area from contributing its maximum potential to the economic benefit of the whole United Kingdom; and whether he will give instructions to reduce these difficulties.

90.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware of the extent to which trade, agriculture and fisheries are being hampered, and the coming of new industry impeded, by transport conditions in the Highlands; and what action he proposes to take to improve transport in that area.

91.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what improvement in transport he proposes so that life, trade, industry and agriculture in the North of Scotland do not continue to be impeded and full production from the North for the benefit of the United Kingdom will be facilitated.

The Government are well aware of transport difficulties in the Highlands and are doing all they can to alleviate them. We have made special financial provision for the improvement of Highland roads and the Chairman of the British Transport Commission has given an assurance that Scottish interests will be fully consulted on the new railway Merchandise Charges Scheme and that the Commission will give the Highlands a fair deal. Expansion of air services in the Highlands depends on the development of a suitable and economic aircraft.

Pwllheli—Liverpool—Manchester Air Services

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress is being made in arranging an air service between Pwllheli, Caernarvon-shire, and Merseyside and Manchester.

My right hon. Friend has now approved, subject to certain conditions being satisfied, associate arrangements between Dragon Airways Ltd, and the British European Airways Corporation under which the company will provide air services between Pwllheli, Liverpool and Manchester.

Kikuyu Reserves (Children)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what increase there has been in malignant malnutrition among the children of the Kikuyu Reserves since the commencement of the present emergency.

There is no evidence of any increase. The medical department are watching the situation carefully and relief measures are ready for use if required.

East Africa (Stenographers)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if the Governments in East Africa will take steps to train Africans to serve as stenographers, and thus avoid the necessity of the East Africa High Commissioner advertising in this country for stenographers at salaries between £648 and £729 per year with a gratuity of 13½ per cent. of the salary.

I have consulted the East African Governors on the subject and will write to the hon. Member when I have received their replies.

Potatoes (Surplus Stocks)

asked the Minister of Food if he will expedite payment to the holders of stocks of potatoes remaining on the farms from last year's crop.

Very few of the surplus old potatoes bought by the Ministry under the guarantee now remain to be dealt with and payments, including claims for compensation, are being cleared without avoidable delay.

Scotland

Housing Subsidies And Loans

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can indicate the total amount paid to local authorities in housing subsidies, and the total amount paid by local authorities in interest on housing loans for each of the years 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952.

Housing subsidies paid to Scottish local authorities from 1919 to 31st March, 1953, amount to approximately £84 million. The details are given in Appendix No. 23 of the Annual Report of the Department of Health for Scotland for 1953 (Command 9107). The interest paid by local authorities on housing loans is estimated at £5·8 million. £6·6 million, £7·5 million and £9·4 million, respectively, for the local authority financial years 1949–50, 1950–51. 1951–52 and 1952–53.

Dental Practitioners

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many dental practitioners are named in the dentists' register for Scotland; how many of the practitioners are estimated to be available for dental practice; and how many of them are engaged in, respectively, the general practitioner service of the National Health Service, the hospital dental service, on a full-time basis, and the local authority dental services, excluding school dental services, on a full-time basis.

At 1st January, 1954, the Dentists' Register contained the names of 1,762 dentists with addresses in Scotland. It is estimated that about 1,500 of these are available for dental practice in Scotland. Approximately 1,200 are engaged in the general dental service, 25 in the hospital service on a full-time basis, and 180 in all the local authority dental services on a full-time basis. Of the latter, some 15 are engaged on a full-time basis on local authority services other than the school dental service.