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Written Answers

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 21 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 21st July, 1954

Roads

Dartford Tunnel (Shields)

2.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what reply he has received from the Dartford Tunnel Committee to his request to them to reconsider their decision not to surrender one of their shields.

The Committee has declined to change its view. My right hon. Friend will, therefore, authorise the construction of a new shield or shields as may be necessary so that the Glasgow tunnel will not be delayed on that account.

New Highway Code

4.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will now state when the new Highway Code will be presented to Parliament.

My right hon. Friend proposes to lay copies of the Highway Code in both Houses of Parliament on 27th July.

Trunk Road, Brereton Green

14.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is aware of the public anxiety felt in the district at the decision of his Department that the Winchester—Preston Trunk Road (Brereton Green Division) Order, 1954, and the Brereton Green Improvements Order, 1954, cannot be put into effect in the near future; that the proposal to make the bend at Brereton safer by minor variations of kerb lines, installation of reflector posts and the resiting of some of the signs is regarded by the public and by the local authorities concerned as inadequate and unlikely to lessen danger at this point, particularly during the winter; and whether, to alleviate this anxiety, he will give further consideration to the present decision.

I know that there has been local anxiety about conditions on the trunk road at Brereton Green, but it has not been represented to us that the minor works proposed are unlikely to lessen danger here. I regret that I cannot promise the early construction of the diversion, but we will certainly bear its desirability in mind.

Guatemala

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what instructions have been given to Her Majesty's representative on the Security Council with reference to the request of the de facto Government of Guatemala for the removal from the agenda of the Security Council of the complaint of external aggression made by the de jure Government of Guatemala.

We shall consider this request together with the final Report of the Inter-American Peace Committee when the latter has been circulated as a Security Council document.

Sudan (Self-Government)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking, pursuant to the undertaking contained in Article 9 of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 12th February, 1953, relating to self-government for the Sudan, to bring the transitional period to an end as soon as possible.

Article 9 of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement states that the two contracting Governments will undertake to bring the transitional period to an end as soon as possible subject to the completion of Sudanisation as outlined in Annex III of the Agreement.The Compensation Law has only just been passed by the Sudanese Parliament, and Sudanisation is, accordingly, only now beginning. It is too early, therefore, to take any decision of the nature contemplated by my hon. Friend.

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what instructions have been given to the British representative on the Sudanisation Committee set up in accordance with Article 8 of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 12th February, 1953.

The British representative was nominated in accordance with Article 8 of the Agreement and his duties are defined in Annex III.

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received, through the Governor-General of the Sudan, any such reports of the Sudanisation Committee as were contemplated by paragraph 4 of Annex III to the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 12th February, 1953; and what action has been taken on such reports.

Yes. The Sudanisation Committee has rendered two reports to the Governor-General, which have been duly transmitted to Her Majesty's Government. No action on the part of Her Majesty's Government is required at this stage.

Anglo-Portuguese Visa (Abolition)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the fact that Portugal is our oldest ally, he will open negotiations with the Portuguese Government with a view to abolishing visas in both countries, as the present position is anomalous.

As was indicated in the reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr Gower) on 13th July, 1953, the Portuguese Government have not in the past been prepared to conclude a visa abolition agreement with us. I hope, however, that, as a result of recent discussions in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the Portuguese Government may be prepared to reconsider their attitude.

Cyprus (Civil Servants)

54.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many civil servants are employed by the Government of Cyprus.

6,780, of whom 1,310 are in the police forces and 1,690 are teachers.

Northern Rhodesia

African Teachers (Trade Unions)

55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why African teachers in Northern Rhodesia are not allowed to form a trade union; and what political restrictions are placed upon them.

African teachers are permitted to form trade unions. Some African teachers are civil servants and subject to the same restrictions on political activities as other civil servants. Most are not civil servants but members of the Unified Teaching Service, whose political activities are governed by regulations debarring them from using their position as teachers to further the ends of any political party or to expound their own political views.

Native Trust Land

59.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what decisions he has made in regard to the conversion of native trust land in Northern Rhodesia into native reserves after the representations made to him at the beginning of this year.

After my talk with the African Representative Council in January, the Governor agreed to consider whether it would be practicable to modify the regulations governing Native Trust Land so as to meet the views expressed by the Africans. This examination is in progress, but is likely to take some time.

Disturbance, Lusaka

65.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give the House particulars in respect of the disturbance at Lusaka on 21st May in which 2,000 African women were involved.

On the morning of 20th May, about 2,000 African women assembled at the District Commissioner's office in Lusaka and asked for an alteration of the law to permit them to brew beer. They were told that the law could only be altered by the Legislature, and that their request could not be immediately granted. The crowd were then ordered to disperse, but instead began to press on the building, and to throw stones. They were dispersed by the police, using tear smoke.

East Africa

Africans, Kenya (Execution)

56.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Africans have now been executed in Kenya since the declaration of the emergency; and on what grounds.

Up to 9th July, 531. The offences were:

Murder (including 211 Mau Mau cases)232
Unlawful possession of arms and ammunition182
Consorting with terrorists91
Administering unlawful oaths18
Acting with intent to further terrorism6
Procuring supplies for terrorists2

Banned Publications

60.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how soon he expects to be able to send to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme a list of the books and journals which have been banned in East African territories.

I have not yet received replies from all the Governments concerned and it may be some weeks before my information is complete; but I will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I can.

West Indies

Fruit Cannery, Dominica (Rebuilding)

66.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now able to make a statement about the rebuilding of the fruit cannery in Dominica which was burnt down.

I am afraid I cannot yet add to the answer I gave the right hon. Member on 23rd June. I will write to him when the owners' decision is known.

Workers' Union, St Vincent (Complaint)

58.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what representations he has received from the Federated Industrial and Agricultural Workers' Union of St. Vincent, concerning alleged victimisation of their members by police and other officials; and what replies he has given to these representations.

I have received a letter from the president of the union urging an inquiry into the conduct of the police and other officials. It has been acknowledged. I had earlier said, in answer to a motion on the same subject by the same person in the St. Vincent Legislative Council, that I saw no grounds for instituting an inquiry.

Hospital Service, Grenada

63.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that 80,000 people living on the island of Grenada have an inadequate hospital service, including an out-of-date X-ray unit; whether he is aware that the $10,000 which he is withholding from the 1954 estimate of expenditure, would enable an up-to-date X-ray unit to be secured; and whether he will take such steps as are open to him to secure that end.

As I endeavoured to explain in the answers I gave the hon. Member last week, there is an X-ray unit in operation but the Grenada Government plans to get a new X-ray when funds are available. The Colony's financial position is, however, at present difficult.

Malaya (Conference)

61.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is yet in a position to give a report on the conference between the High Commissioner of Malaya and the representatives of the United Malay National Organisation and the Malay Chinese Association held on 15th July.

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind the meeting on that date between the High Commissioner and the Conference of Rulers. The subjects considered at that meeting included the request of the organisation and association for a special independent commission consisting of members from outside Malaya, to report on constitutional reforms.Their Highnesses agreed that the Federation Agreement should be re-examined at intervals and that parts of it should be reviewed at an early date. But they were not satisfied that a commission drawn from outside Malaya would be the most suitable means of inquiry. They propose at their next meeting to give further thought, in consultation with the High Commissioner, to the precise manner and method of conducting the review.

Malta (Emigration)

62.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Maltese have emigrated from Malta during the past 12 months; what financial aid they received towards their emigration; and what assistance, in respect of finding employment and accommodation, is given them on their arrival in the United Kingdom.

Emigration is a matter which falls within the competence of Maltese Ministers. I am, however, asking the Maltese Government if they will supply the information requested, and will write to the hon. Member in due course.

Aden (Frontier Incidents)

64.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement regarding the situation on the Aden-Yemeni frontiers.

Since the full statement which my right hon. Friend gave on 19th July, in reply to the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), the Yemen Minister has handed a further Note to the Foreign Office. Until it has been studied I should prefer to reserve comment.

Royal Navy

Reservists (Training)

69.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if, in view of the fact that many men do no intensive course during their period of annual training, he will give the details of what men, undergoing such training, have to do during this period.

I cannot accept the implication of the Question. During their period of annual training, National Service reservists either do intensive courses or have practical experience in their duties, often afloat. The value of part-time service both to the Service and the individual is under constant review, and if the hon. Member will send me particulars of any cases in which he considers our arrangements are deficient I will look into them.

70.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will arrange for the marriage allowance to be paid to the wives of men at the end of the first week of training in order to avoid hardship.

Existing arrangements provide for payment of marriage allowance for reservists under training by the end of the first week. Standing instructions emphasise that applications must be dealt with promptly.

Rearmament Expenditure

71.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how much it was planned to spend on the Royal Navy in the three-year programme beginning in 1951 how much was actually spent in the period: and the value of this amount, in terms of 1950 prices.

The accelerated rearmament programme which was launched in the early spring of 1951 envisaged the spending of up to £1,025 million on the Royal Navy during the three years 1951 to 1954. Actual expenditure over that period has been approximately £976 million; the exact figure for 1953–54 is not yet known.The provision made in Navy Votes to meet price and wage increases between the end of 1950 and April, 1954, amounted roughly to £60 million.

Retired Lieut-Commanders (Pension)

72.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the rate of pension for a retired lieut.-commander at the end of 1939–45 war; and what variations have taken place since.

£440 a year was the rate at the end of the war. This has now been increased to £448 5s. A supplement for war service is also payable subject to an overriding maximum of £475. For officers who retired between 19th December, 1945, and 31st August, 1950, the rate is £475; and for those who have retired since then, £500.

Rescue Facilities, Portsmouth Harbour

73.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if, in view of incidents in Portsmouth Harbour on Friday, 16th July, in which persons were in the water for an hour awaiting rescue, despite efforts by individual sailors from H.M.S. "Phoenix" and by the police, who themselves had to be rescued, he is satisfied that adequate rescue facilities are available in this area; and if he will take such action as is necessary.

I am satisfied that in the circumstances everything possible was done by the ships' company of H.M.S. "Phoenix" and, in particular, by the two sailors who, like the policemen, showed a commendable disregard for their own safety. I do not think that any other precautions are practicable in this remote part of the harbour.

Post Office

Independent Television Authority (Membership)

74.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he can now announce the names of the members of the prospective Independent Television Authority.

Vhf Broadcasting Stations

75 and 76.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General (1) if he will now make a statement on the question of very high frequency broadcasting;(2) what priority the North-East will have for the very high frequency service.

77.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when he expects to provide a very high frequency broadcasting service for the North-East of England.

After consultation with the Television Advisory Committee, my noble Friend has authorised the B.B.C. to proceed with nine very high frequency sound broadcasting stations giving coverage to 75 per cent. of the population of the United Kingdom. They will be situated at Divis (near Belfast), Holme Moss, Meldrum (Aberdeenshire), North Hessary Tor, Norwich, Pontop Pike, Sutton Coldfield, West Wales and Wrotham. The B.B.C. hope to have the first station in this programme, at Wrotham, in regular service by May, 1955; the next will be Pontop Pike and Divis, and the other stations will follow at intervals over a period of about 18 months.My noble Friend has asked the Television Advisory Committee to let him have their recommendations about further development in very high frequency sound broadcasting.

Mails, County Tyrone (Robbery Attempt)

81.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will make a statement concerning the incident near Caledon, County Tyrone, on Friday, 16th July, when a lorry carrying mail was held up and ransacked.

This attempted robbery was made not from a Post Office van but from a lorry carrying mails under contract with the Post Office. It was held up by a gang during the early morning of 16th July. The driver and his mate were overpowered and tied to trees; and the gang then drove off in the lorry, which was later found abandoned. So far as we can see there was no loss from the mail. The matter is in the hands of the police.

Facilities, East Kilbride

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will arrange facilities for buying postage stamps and posting parcels at each shopping centre in each neighbourhood unit at East Kilbride.

Telephone Service

Cardiff

78.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in Cardiff at the manner in which telephones are allocated to applicants; and whether he will institute a Departmental inquiry into the methods adopted in Cardiff.

No. A special drive is being made in Cardiff to connect up as many outstanding applicants as possible and the city is being tackled area by area so that the engineering labour can be used to best advantage. This must be the overriding consideration. Although as a result some applicants may have been connected slightly out of turn I am satisfied that every effort is made to give fair treatment, but if the hon. Member has any particular case in mind I should be pleased to look into it. This concentrated drive has enabled 1,600 people to be connected in Cardiff in the last 12 months.

79.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General on what grounds he gives priority to bookmakers in Cardiff who apply for the installation of a telephone for business purposes.

The rule is that bookmakers receive no more priority than new residential applicants, but I regret that recently three bookmakers in Cardiff were given business priority by mistake. The staff concerned have had their attention drawn to the order of priorities.

Llanberis

80.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware of the long waiting list for telephones in the Llanberis, Caernarvonshire, district; and what steps are being taken to meet the situation.

A new exchange and additional cables are being provided in Llanberis as quickly as possible, and I hope that the work will be completed by March, 1955.

Royal Air Force

Rearmament Expenditure

83.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how much it was planned to spend on the Royal Air Force in the three-year programme beginning in 1951; how much was actually spent in the period; and the value of this amount, in terms of 1950 prices.

The figures are: £1,490 million; about £1,240 million (the exact expenditure for 1953–54 is not yet known); and about £1,115 million.

Rackheath Airfield (Derequisitioning)

82.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what plans his Department has for the future of Rackheath Airfield, Norfolk.

Troops (Movement To Middle East)

84.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what aircraft are available for moving an Army division from the United Kingdom to any central point of Middle Eastern defence; and how long any such move would take.

If such a move were necessary, use would be made of civil as well as military air transport. The length of the move would depend on the circumstances prevailing at the time.

Helicopter Pilots (Training Cost)

85.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the cost of training a helicopter pilot.

As I told the hon. Member on 7th July, our helicopter pilots are trained under civil contract. It would be contrary to well-established Government practice to disclose contract prices.

Retired Wing Commanders (Pension)

86.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the rate of pension for a retired wing commander at the end of the 1939–45 war; and what variations have taken place since.

A wing commander of the General Duties Branch who retired at the end of the war could receive up to £583 14s. 6d. a year retired pay. The rate was changed to £625 from 19th December, 1945, and to £675 a year (plus a terminal grant of £1,000) from 1st September, 1950.

Low-Flying Aircraft

87.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what information he has received in respect of the low-flying aircraft passing over London on 13th July; and what action he has taken to prevent a recurrence of this incident.

I have been unable to identify the aircraft which flew over central London about 10 o'clock on the morning of 13th July. Estimates of its height vary, and there is no certainty that any breach of discipline was committed.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused to residents within the areas of urban and rural district councils in Merioneth by low-flying aircraft operations; and whether he will take action to modify these operations.

These operations are designed to give Army Light Anti-Aircraft units essential practice in defending the country against attacks by low-flying aircraft. It has, however, been found possible to modify them slightly to lessen the possibility of their causing any inconvenience to those who live near the coast of Merioneth.

Courts-Martial, El Firdan

88.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the number of courts-martial at EI Firdan in June in which several airmen were convicted for serious offences and sentenced to long terms of detention; what complaints have been made about the conditions at this camp; and whether he will order an inquiry into the reasons why so many offences have occurred.

I have called for a report, and I shall write to the right hon. Member as soon as I can.

Victor Aircraft (Accident)

90.

asked the Minister of Supply if he can yet state the result of the investigations into the cause of the crash of the first prototype Handley Page Victor crescent-winged jet bomber.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) last Monday.

Education

Northampton

asked the Minister of Education the number of pupils of secondary age, at the nearest convenient date, for the county of Northampton; the number of such pupils accommodated at schools which also accommodate juniors and infants and, as regards each such school, its location, its theoretical maximum accommodation, the number of pupils, the number of pupils of secondary age and the size of the average class and of the average class of pupils of secondary age in it and expected to be in it during the next six years.

In January, 1953, there were in the county 10,566 pupils of secondary school age, of whom 2,875 were in all-age departments. The remaining information for which the hon. and learned Member asks is not readily available in my Department.

asked the Minister of Education what projects have been submitted, and in what order of priority, by the Northamptonshire educational authority for inclusion in their educational building programmes for 1952–53, 1953–54, 1954–55 and 1955–56; what was the estimated cost of each such project; how many forms or places and of what type it was to provide; which of these projects in each year she allowed to be included respectively in the programme or in a reserve list; and which have been begun or completed and at what cost.

Building Programmes

asked the Minister of Education what percentage of the estimated cost of the building programmes submitted by educational authorities for the years 1952–53, 1953–54, 1954–55 and 1955–56 has been allowed to be included in the building programmes for those years, respectively, in County Durham, Essex, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, West Sussex, and England as a whole.

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

asked the Minister of Education what percentage of the estimated cost of the educational building programmes in County Durham, Essex, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and West Sussex, respectively, for the years 1952–53, 1953–54, 1954–55 and 1955–56 relates to schools in the new towns in those counties.

Following is the information:

Local education authorityPercentage of estimated cost of school building programme relating to schools in new towns
1952–531953–541954–551955–56
Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.
Berkshire51·7543·95·636·4
Durham45·929·117·925·6
Essex17·326·537·318·1
Hertfordshire25·357·537·532·4
Northamptonshire32·316·646·59·0
West Sussex63·756·744·924·9

Water Supplies (Fluoridation)

asked the Minister of Health what arrangements are being made in Anglesey, Darlington, Kilmarnock and Watford to obtain information regarding the fluoride excretion in the urine of representative persons of all age groups in these areas and their associated control areas; how it is proposed to obtain samples of urine from representative persons of all age groups in these communities; and how this work is being carried out.

There are certain technical difficulties to be resolved and the matter is under consideration by the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself.

asked the Minister of Health how the incidence of dental caries in children and adults in Anglesey, Darlington, Kilmarnock and Watford will be ascertained and in the communities to be used as controls; and for how long will this survey be carried on before fluoride is added to the water supply.

To determine the current incidence of caries, the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself are arranging for dental examinations on a standard basis of selected groups of children and adults. These examinations will be made by dentists in advance of the addition of fluoride to the water supply in each of the four areas concerned and in the comparable control areas.

Food Prices

asked the Minister of Food if he will publish in HANSARD a table of figures showing the retail price of all items of food for which his Department were responsible in October, 1951, showing how these prices compare with the latest convenient date.

I am sending the hon. Member publications and orders relating to commodities which were controlled in price in November, 1951. As he will recognise when he has studied these lists, it would be impracticable to compile comparable lists now that there is a much wider and different variety of grades, brands and types in the shops. The only satisfactory measure of changing food prices is that provided by the interim index.