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Written Answers

Volume 530: debated on Friday 23 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday, 23rd July, 1954

Gold Coast And Sierra Leone (Survey)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what were the findings of the expedition, which set out in 1952 to survey the Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, to discover whether uranium or thorium existed there.

I have been asked to reply.The survey was undertaken mainly to test the reliability of new prospecting equipment under difficult conditions; in this it proved successful. No significant amounts of uranium were discovered, but granites containing thorium were found in Sierra Leone.

West Africa (Cocoa Production)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to increase cocoa production in West Africa; and how the campaign against swollen shoot disease is progressing.

Steps taken by the Gold Coast and Nigerian authorities include disease control measures; cash grants for replanting to farmers whose cocoa has been cut out; the free issue of improved planting material; advisory work on better cultivation; and the survey of land suitable for fresh plantings. The work is backed by a comprehensive research programme. These efforts have so far not succeeded in doing more than counter-balance the effects on production of the depredations of swollen shoot and other diseases.The cutting-out campaign against swollen shoot in the Gold Coast continues to be successful in checking the spread of the disease to new areas. No 'more effective way of controlling the disease has yet been found, though research into other methods continues. Nigeria's policy of cutting out diseased trees to isolate areas of mass infection by a cordon sanitaire has not proved entirely successful, and the Western Regional Government have asked for help in obtaining further expert advice from the United Kingdom

Ministry Of Food

Food Subsidies

asked the Minister of Food the current estimates of the total cost of food subsidies, with details of the main items, including the various production grants paid direct to farmers.

The welfare subsidies, the bread and general milk subsidies, and the cost of the agricultural price guarantees administered by the Ministry of Food are shown in detail on page 21 of the 1954/1955 Revised Estimate (HC 135) published on 31st March. The cost of the production grants administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture for Scotland are shown in the Agricultural Departments' Estimates (HC 99) published on 23rd February, 1954.

Re-Commissioned Mills Limited

asked the Minister of Food if the details of the service method of operation for Re-Commissioned Mills Limited in the 1954 crop-year have yet been worked out; and what will be the charge involved to the Exchequer.

Detailed arrangements have now been settled by my Department in consultation with the Agricultural Departments and the other interests concerned. A scale of charges based on commercial rates has been arranged. If a loss arises on the operations of the Company, it will be charged, in accordance with existing practice, against the provision made for the trading services of my Department.

Ministry Of Health

Sussex County Hospital (Complaint)

asked the Minister of Health why, on 12th July, 1954, a boy from Great Walstead School was kept waiting for three hours beyond the fixed time of appointment at the eye department of the Sussex County Hospital. Brighton.

I am making inquiries and will write to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Smallpox

asked the Minister of Health how many cases of smallpox and how many deaths from that disease were recorded in the year 1953; what were the ages of those concerned; and in what towns or villages they occurred.

Thirty cases were notified and eight deaths were registered. Numbers in different age groups were as follows:

Age GroupNotificationsDeaths
0–51
5–1451
15–44124
45–64113
65 and over1
The distribution of notifications and the area of usual residence in the case of those who died were as follows:

NotificationsDeaths
Bacup M.B.21
Baildon U.D.11
Bury C.B.3
Colne Valley U.D.11
Halifax C.B.4
Leeds C.B.41
Morley M.B.11
Oldham C.B.3
Todmorden M.B.113

Post-Vaccinal Death

asked the Minister of Health how many death certificates were received on which the cause of death or one of its causes were given as vaccination, vaccinia, post-vaccinal encephalitis, generalised vaccinia, or any other complication of vaccination, and the ages of each case, during the year 1953.

Five. Ages were 2 months. 5 months, 5 months. 11 months and 42 years.

North-Western Area (Institutional Accommodation)

asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the shortage of accommodation in the North-West area for mentally defectives, in particular, children, he will consider arranging for Keith Harding, particulars of whose case have already been sent to him, to be accommodated in an area where a vacancy is available, in view of the fact that this child has been awaiting admission since March, 1952.

As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, the regional hospital board are well aware of this case, and I should like to help if I could, but, in view of the general shortage of accommodation and the existence of waiting lists in all regions, I do not consider that I could properly intervene.

Requisitioned Hotels (Compensation)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that, owing to requisition, permits for £50,000 for the Golf View Hotel, Nairn, and £70,000 for the Marine Hotel, North Berwick, were sanctioned by the Ministry of Works for rehabilitation, that no part of the cost of these necessary improvements is claimable against his Department; and if he will consider re-opening the inquiry.

My right hon. Friend is aware that permits for work on rehabilitation of these hotels were given by the Ministry of Works and that the work included improvements to the hotels. The War Office is not liable for the cost of any such improvements, but only for the damage done during the military occupation. The latter compensation was assessed by an independent tribunal appointed under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, and the amounts awarded have been paid. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate is replying to the two Questions on reopening the inquiry, of which my hon. Friend has given notice.

asked the Secretary of State for War for what period the Marine Hotel, North Berwick, was occupied by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a training school; when the marching-in state was submitted; and on what date it was signed

This hotel was requisitioned by the War Office on 12th April, 1941. Records of the units which occupied it during the war are not now available, but the first unit entered on 5th May, 1941, and the hotel was occupied by a unit of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers on 30th October, 1945, when it was derequisitioned. A marching-in state was prepared on 24th April, 1941, and signed on behalf of the hotel proprietors on 4th May, 1941, and on behalf of the War Office on 6th June. 1941.

asked the Minister of Works what rehabilitation grant was paid by his Department to Gleneagles and Turnberry Hotels, respectively; and what was the amount actually claimed in each instance.

Compensation payments were made in agreement with the British Transport Commission in respect of both hotels, but it would be contrary to practice to give the details.

Civil Aviation (Airport Taxes)

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will now abolish the airport tax imposed on passengers leaving this country by air.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement on this subject made in the debate on Civil Aviation on 8th March. Passengers will be able from 1st August to pay this charge when buying their tickets in the airline offices in this country of both air corporations and of British independent operators. This should considerably reduce the annoyance of having to find money at the last moment when leaving the country.