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Written Answers

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 19th July, 1954

Ministry Of Supply

Remploy Factories (Packaging Contracts)


asked the Minister of Supply for an assurance that it is still his policy to give preference for Remploy for the packaging of defence equipment.

Yes. Remploy Ltd. and similar organisations continue to be given preference for contracts of this kind placed by the Ministry of Supply.

Atomic Weapon Tests


asked the Minister of Supply what further major tests of atomic weapons are contemplated on the lines of those carried out in Australia.

Shipbuilding (Steel Plate)


asked the Minister of Supply whether he is now satisfied with the supply of steel plate to the shipbuilding and shiprepairing industries.

The production of steel plate in Britain has been running at a somewhat higher rate this year than in the corresponding period of last year. The recent mechanical breakdown at the Consett Iron Company's works is causing a small fall in output, but it is expected that this will soon be remedied. Generally speaking, it can, I think, be said that available supplies of steel plate are now sufficient to meet the current needs of the shipbuilding and shiprepairing industries.

Government Flax Mills


asked the Minister of State, Board of Trade, as representing the Minister of Materials, what changes are being made in the administration of the Government flax factories; and for what reasons.

The agreements with agents at present operating certain flax mills on behalf of the Ministry of Materials terminate on 31st July. From 1st August these mills will be transferred to the direct control of the Ministry to facilitate changes in the flax scheme necessary for economy.

Pensions And National Insurance

Ex-Prisoners Of War, Japan (Compensation)


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he is yet in a position to state if the money received for the Burma—Siam Railway has been distributed to the men who suffered during its construction; and on what basis the payments were made.

I cannot add to the reply I gave to a similar question by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) on 5th July last.

Old-Age Pensioners


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what representations he has recently received from the National Federation of Old-Age Pensioners; and what reply he has sent.

A letter was received from the general secretary of the Federation on 12th July and has been acknowledged.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the number of old-age pensioners in Wales at the latest convenient date; the number who are in receipt of National Assistance; and the number who applied in 1953 for assistance to buy clothes.

There are about 250,000 old-age pensioners in Wales, of whom about 78,000 are receiving regular weekly grants of National Assistance. Some of the grants cover the needs of a household containing more than one pensioner. I regret that the number of pensioners who applied for additional grants for clothing is not known.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the number of old people in Cardiff who applied for Assistance to buy clothes in each of the years 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954 to date; and the corresponding numbers who have been refused Assistance.

The National Assistance Board regret that the specific information asked for is not available. The number of grants to meet exceptional needs. mostly for clothing and bedding, to pensioners and other applicants receiving assistance from the Board's offices in Cardiff (which cover an area extending beyond the City) were as follows: 1951, 2,100; 1952, 2,027; 1953, 1,987; 1954 (to end June) 1,317.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the number of appeals he has received from old-age pensioners during the past six weeks: whether he is aware that the pensioners plight is now grim; and what action he proposes to take before the Recess to meet the needs of old people.

Forty-eight letters about the rate of retirement pensions have been received from pensioners during the past six weeks. For the rest, perhaps we had better await the debate on Wednesday.

War Pensioners

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the number of war widows in Wales who have their pension supplemented by National Assistance.

The National Assistance Board regret that this information is not available.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the

Shillings and pence per lb.
October, 1951April, 1952October, 1952April, 1953October, 1953April, 1954
United Kingdom262626303438
W. Germany410½45444



asked the Minister of Food how many slaughterhouses are now licensed; and how many are in actual use in England and Wales, and in Scotland.

number of war pensioners in Wales who have applied for Assistance to buy clothes for themselves or for their family.

The National Assistance Board regret that this information is not available.

Ministry Of Food

Barley (Continental Exports)


asked the Minister of Food why it is considered necessary to continue control over the export to the Continent of barley of malting quality while the import of barley of all qualities has been freed from control.

For balance of payments reasons. But licences for the export of barley of malting quality have been granted freely by the Board of Trade against evidence of firm sales.

Butter (Retail Prices)

asked the Minister of Food how the retail price of butter in this country compared with that in other Western European countries on the first of each month since October, 1951.

The following is a table of comparative prices up to the latest date for which such information is available.had been licensed by local authorities. It is not known how many are actually in use. In addition, local authorities are providing public slaughtering accommodation at another 200 places. I am informed by my right hon. Friend that in Scotland there are about 25 private slaughterhouses registered and in use and 91 public slaughterhouses. There are also a number of small slaughtering points in the Highlands and Islands. I should like to take this opportunity to thank local authorities for the energetic way in which they have tackled these problems.

Royal Air Force

Crichel Down (Use)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air to state, in general terms, what training or what other activity connected with the work of the Royal Air Force took place on Crichel Down in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949, respectively.

This range was not used by the Royal Air Force during the period in question, but the Ministry of Supply used it for experimental bombing and rocket firing until the middle of 1948. The remainder of the period was occupied with clearing the land of unexploded missiles.

Union Recognition (Chargehands' Association)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when he proposes to reply to the letter of the Maintenance Command Technical Charge-Hands' Association. dated 4th May, dealing with recognition.

The Association wrote to the Air Ministry on 1st May from 3, King Street, Wigton, Cumberland, and a reply was sent to that address on 15th May. This was returned marked "Not known." It was sent off again on 21st May, this time by registered post, but once again came back marked "Not known." If the hon. Member will let me have an address at which the Association may be reached, I shall be very happy to see that they get a reply to their letter.


Crichel Down


asked the Minister of Agriculture what rough or detailed architectural plans of buildings required to equip Crichel Down as a single unit were drawn up on his behalf either by his Department or by the Land Commission or by the Land Service; and if he will place copies in the Library.

Seven such plans were drawn up by the Land Service, for the Land Commission. I am arranging for a set of these to be placed in the Library.

Orchard Fruit Census

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will consider holding the next orchard fruit census in 1956–57.

Yes. The orchard fruit census is generally taken in January and the next one is scheduled for January, 1957.

Potato Marketing Board

asked the Minister of Agriculture if the arrangements regarding the Potato Marketing Board have now been circulated to registered producers.

I understand that the Potato Marketing Board expect to circulate the particulars of their proposals to registered producers by the end of this month. The revision of the register is taking longer than was expected. The Board's proposals will take the form of a substitutional scheme to replace the present scheme.

Fertiliser Sacks (Weight Marking)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make an order to ensure that all fertilisers are sold in sacks holding not more than 1½ cwt., and that the weights are printed on all fertiliser sacks or bags.

I have no power to make an order for either of these purposes. As regards the proposal that printing of the weight on fertiliser sacks or bags should be made compulsory, I understand that my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, has this matter under consideration in connection with possible weights and measures legislation.

Apprenticeship Scheme, Wales (Applications)

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of applications which have been received in each of the counties in Wales for the Agricultural Apprenticeship Scheme.

I understand that applications have been received as follows:

Brecon and Radnor 6

Designated Milk (Farm Tests)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will consider extending the experimental scheme of farm sampling under the National Milk Testing Service.

An experiment in sampling designated milk at the farm instead of at the buyer's premises was carried out in Wales and the West Midlands, and the results are now being examined. The general indications are that the experiment has achieved the object of increasing the efficiency of sampling without adding to the cost of the service. I will certainly consider extending the arrangement to the rest of England and Wales and propose shortly to consult the interested organisations.

Monsanto Chemicals (Factories)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what information he has to give about the new industry which Monsanto Chemicals Limited are contemplating setting up in the Wrexham area, in view of the fact that the firm will be experimenting in the manufacture of materials for plastics which otherwise have to be imported from dollar countries.

I understand that this company intend to expand their activities by erecting plants to manufacture maleic anhydride and styrene butadiene resins, appreciable quantities of which are at present imported from the dollar area. The maleic anhydride plant will be constructed at the company's factory at Ruabon: the location of the other plant has not yet been decided.

Telephone Service

Sittingbourne Exchange

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when the change from manual to automatic control will take place at Sittingbourne, Kent, telephone exchange.

Our intention is to convert the Sittingbourne telephone exchange to automatic working, but it is unlikely to take place in the near future.

East Kilbride

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that new houses are being completed at East Kilbride at the rate of about 60 every month; and by what dates he hopes to be able to provide telephone service for the 266 applicants whose requests were still outstanding at the end of 1953.

Equipment available in the present telephone exchange, together with equipment for a further 200 subscribers which will be installed in a temporary building next year, should cater for applications for telephones at business premises or for removing residential subscribers. I regret that, as a new building for a larger permanent telephone exchange is required, it will be some time before telephones can be supplied to new residential applicants. The provision of ducts is keeping pace with the town's development, and enough new cables are being drawn in to enable lines up to the capacity of the exchange to be connected.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General why his Department classify as residential applicants those business and professional men who desire to have a telephone at home for business purposes.

In the interest of business requirements generally only applicants who work entirely at home and use the telephone primarily for business purposes are as a normal rule connected at the business rate.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when he expects that the process of rearranging and altering the underground telephone cables at East Kilbride will be sufficiently advanced to enable all who need a telephone for business purposes to be supplied.

Priority is being given to business premises and there should. in general, be little delay in providing them with telephones. Of the 28 applications on hand at 30th June. 16 were in course of being met.

East Kilbride (Lawrence Houses)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that complaints about dampness and condensation in Lawrence houses made by tenants of the East Kilbride Development Corporation in the Westwood and Murray neighbourhoods are not confined to, and do not always originate in. complaints about the larders, but in some cases relate to other parts of the house, including hall cupboards and upstairs rooms; to how many houses these complaints relate; and what remedial measures are now being undertaken.

About 30 houses of the type in question have been the subject of complaints for the reasons specified by my hon. Friend. I am informed that remedial work on these houses to eliminate these defects has been completed and that, provided the houses are adequately ventilated by the tenants, no further trouble on these grounds is expected.

Local Government

Middlesex Development Plan (D Ring Road)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government when he expects to be in a position to give his decision on the Middlesex County Development Plan; or whether he can issue a statement with regard to that part of the plan which affects the D Ring Road.

In view of the large number of objections to be considered and the major issues involved I cannot yet forecast the probable date of decision. I cannot approve any part of the Plan in isolation, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation issued a decision relating to the D Ring Road under the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act, 1935, on 11th February last.

Land, Aberdare (Purchase Order Appeal)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will indicate his decision as to the appeal made against the order of the Aberdare Urban District Council for land for housing purposes at Pant Farm, Aberdare, for which a local inquiry was conducted in December, 1953.

The decision on the council's application for the confirmation of the Aberdare Urban (Pant Y Gerdinen Housing) Compulsory Purchase Order. 1953, was sent to the council and the objectors on 14th July. The decision was that the order should not be confirmed.

Salvage Collection

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will give an assurance that it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to urge local authorities to do all within their power to encourage the collection of waste and refuse.

Sewerage Schemes, Kettering And Brixworth

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what sewerage schemes have been submitted since 1st January, 1952, by the Kettering and Brixworth Rural District Councils for contributions under the Rural Water Supply and Sewerage Acts, 1944 and 1951: and what are, in the case of each such scheme, the date of submission, the location, the estimated cost, the amount of any contribution or the reasons for refusal of a contribution, the dates of work begun and of work completed, the actual expenditure and the present position.

Local AuthorityScheme submittedGrant application submittedLocation (parishes served)Estimated CostGrant under R.W. & S. ActWork begunWork completedActual CostPresent position
Brixworth R.D.C.9. 8.5120.1.54Moulton42,30014,500Scheme about to be authorised, with immediate starting date.18 months contract49,600 (based on tender price)Grant offered but revision requested.
Brixworth R.D.C.9. 8.5129. 4.54Maidwell and Draughton.29,20013,000Starting date 1. 4.5412 months contract
Brixworth R.D.C.17.12.5317.12.53Lamport and Hanging Houghton.8,600Not yet approved in principle—further particulars awaited from Councils.
Brixworth R.D.C.17.12.5317.12.53Ravensthorpe12,300
Brixworth R.D.C.17.12.5317.12.53Spratton29,800
Brixworth R.D.C.17.12.5317.12.53Pitsford30,900
Kettering R.D.C.22.10.52No K. 327 yetStanion17,500Not yet approved in principle—further particulars awaited from Council.
Kettering R.D.C.11.8.503. 1.52Loddington8,600Approved in principle, but a start not yet authorised.
Kettering R.D.C.27.10.5226. 3.54Cransley11,950Local investigation will take place on 30th July.
Kettering R.D.C.16. 7.5227. 3.53Grafton Underwood17,8008,500 undertakingStarting date March, 19549 months contract
Kettering R.D.C.14. 1.5317. 7.53Braybrooke17,3509,000 undertakingStarting date June, 19549 months contract

Comet Aircraft Accidents


asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is now in a position to make a full statement on the causes of the various Comet crashes.

No. There is nothing to add to my statement of 31st May last, in respect of the Comet accidents at Rome, Calcutta and Karachi. The causes of the disasters near Elba and Naples will, as my hon. Friend knows, be the subject of public inquiries.

Prisons (East-Hubert Institution)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the institution for psychiatric offenders to be built at Grendon Underwood will be classified as a prison; and if he will make a statement.

The proposed institution will be within the prison system and under the control of the Prison Commissioners. This prison will be the first of its kind in this country. It is commonly referred to as the East-Hubert Institution, from the names of the two psychiatrists who recommended in 1939 that it should be set up. It is intended to provide for the care, study and treatment of selected groups of defined classes of prisoners. The larger proportion of these would probably require active psychiatric treatment, but others would be included who are unsuitable for the observation wings of ordinary prisons, or for research purposes. No one would go there who is certifiable as insane. The prison will accommodate about 300 cases. There will be provision for both men and women, and for Borstal boys and girls.

Fuel Supplies (Glasshouse Heating)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is satisfied that there will be adequate supplies of fuel during the coming year for glasshouse heating; and what plans he has to care for this section of our home production of food.

Yes; but I must again ask growers to take a substantial part of their requirements in coke.