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Commons Chamber

Volume 531: debated on Thursday 29 July 1954

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 29th July, 1954

The House met at Half past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Message From The Queen

Ministry Of Materials (Transfer Of Functions)

The VICE-CHAMBERLAIN OF THE HOUSEHOLD reported Her Majesty's answer to the Address, as follows:

I have received your Address praying that the Transfer of Functions ( Ministry of Materials) Order, 1954, be made in the form of the Draft laid before Parliament.

I will comply with your request.

Living Animals (Experiments)

Address for

"Return of experiments performed under the Act 39 and 40 Vict. c. 77, during 1953. (In continuation of Parliamentary Paper No. 312 of Session 1953–53)."—[Sir H. Lucas-Tooth.]

Motor Vehicles (Offences)

Address for

"Return showing the number of offences relating to motor vehicles in England and Wales, the number of persons prosecuted for such offences, the results of proceedings in magistrates' courts, and the number of alleged offences in respect of which written warnings were issued by the police, together with the number of persons concerned, during the year ended 31st day of December, 1953."—[Sir H. Lucas-Tooth.]

Oral Answers To Questions

Education

Physical Recreation (Encouragement)

1, 2 and 3.

asked the Minister of Education (1) what steps she is taking to encourage and develop the game of association football; and what grants she has made to voluntary bodies in this connection;

(2) if she will make a full statement on what action she intends taking to encourage physical fitness and sport of all kinds;

(3) if she will call a conference of representative people interested in sport in order to receive suggestions and advice for future action.

Physical education forms part of the curriculum of all schools and of a great many establishments of further education. According to their age and sex children take part in a wide variety of games or sports, which will usually include association football for boys. Local education authorities also use their powers under Section 53 of the Education Act, 1944, to provide other facilities for physical training and recreation.

I make a substantial grant to the Central Council of Physical Recreation, which has close contacts with governing bodies of most national sports' organisations and which advises me on needs generally. I see no reason to call a conference or to suggest a change in our ways of encouraging young people to keep fit.

Will the Minister reconsider her answer in the light of the debate that took place last night and the excellent reply made by her Parliamentary Secretary? Will she consult her leading officials and then consider what action to take?

I shall certainly consider the debate that took place last night, and also the excellent speech of my hon. Friend.

12.

asked the Minister of Education whether, in view of the extent of juvenile crime, she will take steps to facilitate the provision of more courses, on the now well-tried principles of the Outward Bound schools, to divert the young into the interesting and healthy channels which they provide.

I regret that I cannot add to the answer given to my noble Friend by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on 8th July.

Bearing in mind the gap between the school-leaving age and the time of call up, does not my right hon. Friend think that a considerable extension of the type of training that is provided by the Outward Bound schools would have a tremendous effect not only in reducing juvenile crime but in diverting some of the activities of the "Edwardian" groups?

The work that the schools are doing is excellent. I would remind my noble Friend that it is open to local education authorities to assist young people attending these courses and that their expenditure in this respect ranks for grant. I believe that local education authorities generally are aware of the work those schools are doing, and that it needs no further recommendation from me, but if it does I certainly say again in this House what tremendously good work they are doing.

Would the right hon. Lady specify what organised efforts are being made outside school hours to divert young people's minds into constructive channels?

I think there are a very great many of them, such as through youth club schemes and further education. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would like details of any particular branch of these activities perhaps he would put a Question on the Order Paper.

Obsolete Schools (Rebuilding)

4.

asked the Minister of Education whether, in view of the fact that she proposes to bring Part III of the Education Act, 1944, into operation about 1957, she will ensure that, by that date, obsolete schools which have been on the black list since 1926 will have been rebuilt.

No, Sir. I cannot say precisely what progress will have been made by 1957 in dealing with unsatisfactory school buildings.

When does the Minister mean to modify Circular No. 245 so as to allow local authorities to get on with the rebuilding and rehabilitation of very old schools?

I think I made the position clear in the debate on Monday. Children are going from old buildings into new schools. In fact, one in six of all the children are now in schools that have been built since the war. That process is continuing. We shall have fewer children in the bad schools and will get to the stage in which we shall be able to pull down the old schools when we have sufficient new ones for the children to go into.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that old buildings do not necessarily mean bad schools?

Playing Fields

6.

asked the Minister of Education when she expects to be able to lift the ban on the development of playing fields imposed in 1952.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary gave her on 22nd July.

7.

asked the Minister of Education how many schools in Stoke-on-Trent have no playing fields; how many have school yards inadequate for organised games; and how many of these are primary and how many secondary modern schools, respectively.

Catering Training Facilities, South-West Region

8.

asked the Minister of Education if she is aware of the urgent need for a catering training school in the South-West region of England to meet the needs of the catering industry; and whether she is now prepared to give her consent to the inclusion in the 1955–56 education building programmes of such facilities.

15.

asked the Minister of Education what proposals she has received for providing a catering unit at Torquay Technical College to serve the South-Western counties; and what decision she has taken in this matter.

I am aware of the need for better facilities for catering education in this region, but as I have explained to the Devon local education authority, I cannot at present approve a proposal which involves substantial new building.

May we take it that it is only a temporary embargo on the provision of these facilities? Is the right hon. Lady not aware that her Department not only sanctioned the proposals but, I am advised, set aside money to carry them through? Does she realise the urgency of this need in South-West England, in which the catering industry is a basic industry?

I quite agree that we want to have better facilities for catering instruction, but we have certain urgent priorities in the building of technical colleges. The priorities are engineering, mining, textiles and building. However, I have suggested to the Devon authority that although it cannot put through its bigger project at the present time we should meet to discuss how its more pressing needs could be met by a relatively small project.

Will the right hon. Lady bear in mind that this is intended to be a regional unit for the whole of the South-West? Will she remember that the tourist industry is one of the most important in the South-West, particularly in Cornwall and in my constituency, Falmouth and Camborne? If the Treasury is blocking the way to this much needed extension of the buildings will she ask the Chancellor to remove his embargo quickly?

I do not think I can add to what I have said, and the hon. Gentleman will not disagree with me about the importance of mining, as well as catering, in his constituency.

Will my right hon. Friend, now that the Government's policy has progressed so much, use her influence with other Ministers who are in favour of amending this circular so that there can be better training for this great dollar-earning industry in future?

I think that we must keep the priorities, and that the other Ministers and the House will agree that the four priorities we have in the types of technical education must come first.

Meals And Milk Service

9.

asked the Minister of Education whether she is aware that children who receive education in premises specially sanctioned under the Education Act, 1944, by reason of the fact that they receive education otherwise than at school, are ineligible to receive meals and milk service afforded to other children; and whether she will take whatever steps are necessary to put an end to this anomaly.

Yes, Sir. Local education authorities have power to provide milk and meals only for children who are in attendance at school. Legislation would be required to change this position.

Will my right hon. Friend consider introducing legislation in view of the extreme importance of children receiving adequate meals? It is not more important that they should get adequate meals than that we should be put to a little trouble to amend or remove regulations that prevent them from having them?

The children who go to the schools do, of course, get milk and meals. At present, I cannot ensure legislation could be brought in to deal with these particular groups of children.

Is there no limit to the activities and, therefore, to the expenditure of the taxpayers' money in my right hon. Friend's Department?

Yes. I think the fact that there is a limit has been brought out in several debates and answers to Questions. I should like that limit to be as high as possible, and, perhaps, even higher than it is.

Modern Secondary Schools, Bristol

11.

asked the Minister of Education how many classes there are in the modern secondary schools in Bristol with over 30 pupils; to what extent the overcrowding is due to a shortage of teachers or accommodation; and if she will now agree to grant the number of schools requested by the local committee for the coming year.

There were 263 such classes in January, 1954. The Bristol education authority would require both more teachers and more accommodation to enable it to reduce to 30 the size of classes in its secondary modern schools. I have included in the authority's 1955–56 building programme and its reserve list all the projects designed to provide additional secondary school places for which they asked.

In view of the serious position in Bristol, will the Minister now consider reversing her previous decision to reduce the number of schools required by the education authority from 10 to seven? Will she help the local authority by granting money for the three schools?

As I pointed out, I have included in the authority's 1955–56 building programme and its reserve list new secondary schools designed to provide accommodation for about 2,750 children.

Is it not a fact that the Minister reduced the number of schools required by the local authority last year from 10 to seven and now, in 1955 to 1956, she is restoring the number to 10?

Bristol is carrying out an enormous building programme. It is building practically everything it possibly can and, in 1955–56, will be building to accommodate an extra 2,750 secondary school children.

Bec Grammar School, Wandsworth

13.

asked the Minister of Education why she has refused to permit the London County Council to proceed with its development plan for Bec Grammar School and secondary education in that area.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), on 15th July last.

Is the Minister aware that that answer means that she is the sole arbiter of what is educationally advantageous to children, that it means that she has the right to flout the decisions of local education authorities, and that in this she is behaving like a French minister of education and not a British Minister of Education?

I am rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman, who knows so much about the Education Act, 1944, did not look it up before making those remarks. If he will look at Section 13 he will see that although a local authority may propose closing or opening a school the responsibility for the decision is the Minister's. I am also surprised that the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members opposite should talk of the flouting of the opinions of local authorities by Ministers, when in their own statement of their future policy, they say they will insist on comprehensive schools in all parts and tear up, I presume, more than 140 development plans.

Minor Capital Work (Allocations)

14.

asked the Minister of Education why, when Southampton local education authority asked for an allocation of £42,690 for supplementary allocations for minor capital work on school building, only £13,600 was allocated for that purpose.

I made this allocation, as a supplement to the authority's basic allocation of £17,775, after taking into account the size of its major school building programme, its need for additional school places and the relative urgency of the need for the improvements which it wished to carry out.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that this reduced allocation is preventing the local authority from carrying out some very necessary and urgent work on the schools, particularly on improving sanitation? Will she be a bit more generous the year after?

I would point out that the total allocation for minor works has been £31,375, and, in addition to any extra places provided, there will he about £15,000 for improvement.

28.

asked the Minister of Education the total amount requested by local authorities in the last financial year for minor capital work; and how much was approved.

29.

asked the Minister of Education how much of the money allowed for minor capital work in the last financial year was used for extensions.

£2·1 million out of the allocation to local education authorities in 1953–54 for minor works.

I am not quite clear why the right hon. Lady is now able to answer this Question when she was not able to give me an answer to Question No. 28. This Question is consequential upon Question No. 28. How, therefore, is she able to give me one answer without the other?

If the hon. Lady will look at the two Questions, she will see that in Question No. 28 she asked me to give the total amount requested by local authorities in the last financial year for minor capital work and how much was approved; and, in Question No. 29, she asked me how much of the money allowed for minor capital work in the last financial year was used for extensions. The first figures I cannot give her immediately, but I will let her have them in writing.

Boy, Midsomer Norton (Technical School Entry)

16.

asked the Minister of Education why Michael Sandells, of Drill Hall Cottage, Steam Mills, Midsomer Norton, Somerset, was refused entry to a secondary technical school on the grounds that the Somerset County Education Authority did not consider him suitable, although he was top of his form, passed all his tests, and the said authority did not interview him.

Boys, Durham (Corporal Punishment)

17.

asked the Minister of Education whether her attention has been called to the action of Mr. Oliver Whitfield, of the Secondary Modern School, Durham, who caned 200 boys because he was unable to discover a misdemeanour alleged to have been made by one of them; whether such mass corporal punishment of children has her approval; and whether she will issue instructions for the dismissal of this headmaster for punishing 199 innocent boys.

I have seen reports of the incident in the Press. Disciplinary matters of this kind are within the discretion of the headmaster and of the local education authority, and I would not wish to intervene. In any case, I have no power to require the dismissal of the headmaster.

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the statements made by the Home Secretary on this question of punishment a few days ago, when he said:

"… the two requirements of natural justice that have gone back to the beginning of civilisation are that a person who may be punished should know what the complaint is against him and that he should be given an opportunity to meet it. That is the basis of the rule of law throughout the ages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1954; Vol. 530, c. 1292.]
Was either of those conditions fulfilled in the case of any one of these 200 children? Is this not a gross abuse of the ordinary custom of justice which is being denied to these children and has not the right hon. Lady the responsibility of safeguarding their rights? What action does she intend to take to prevent this gross abuse of justice?

Without expressing an opinion whether there was justice or not, I can only repeat that I shall not interfere with the duty and responsibility of the local authority and the headmaster.

Is the Minister aware that the parents in this district are not complaining, and that it would be an advantage if my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) would leave the teaching profession alone for a while? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Is the Minister further aware that the discipline of this school can only suffer from the publicity given to a Question of this sort?

New Secondary School, Cippenham

18.

asked the Minister of Education if she will authorise the building of a new secondary school at Cippenham, Slough, during 1955–56.

I hope that, following discussion with the Buckinghamshire local education authority, it may be possible to include this project in the reserve list to their 1955–56 school building programme.

While expressing appreciation of the Minister's consideration of this problem, as there will be 1,000 children in this school at the end of 1956 and the school is built for only 540, may I ask whether she will give urgent consideration to the request for a new school?

I cannot say anything precise at this stage. We are still in discussion about the reserve list. In the main programme settled for 1955–56 there are four secondary and four primary schools at an estimated cost of £631,000. An enormous programme is being undertaken. I know that the school is wanted urgently.

School, Bacton-Mendlesham

20.

asked the Minister of Education when the proposed central school in the Bacton-Mendlesham area of East Suffolk will be built; and on what approximate date it is anticipated that it will be ready for use.

I have received no proposals from the local education authority for the inclusion of this proposed school in an early building programme.

In view of that rather distressing reply, will my right hon. Friend take as much action as possible with county authorities to see that these schools are built in the rural areas and allay the fear of parents that children who are sent into small towns become urbanised?

Yes, I think that what I said in the debate last Monday will show my hon. and gallant Friend that that is my desire. That is why I have been anxious to retain the village schools. We are getting a further programme of secondary schools.

Circulars 242 And 245

21.

asked the Minister of Education when she expects to be able to withdraw Circulars 242 and 245 and to restore the freedom which local education authorities enjoyed prior to these circulars being issued.

These Circulars will continue in force so long as the national financial situation requires. I do not accept the implication of the last part of the Question.

Is the education service to be the last to find any relief under the apparent prosperity which the Government claim to have restored?

The financial position is very much better, as the hon. Gentleman has said, thanks to the work of this Government. If he will look at the Estimates and the amount of building work that is being done, he will see that, thanks to the improvement, we are able to spend more on education and, I think, get better value.

School Building Programme

22.

asked the Minister of Education what protests she has received from the Welsh Joint Education Committee concerning the school building programme in Wales; and what reply she has sent.

I have been informed that the Welsh Joint Education Committee wish to discuss with me the question of educational building programmes in Wales and Monmouthshire. I hope to arrange a meeting at a convenient date.

Is the Minister aware that I should like to be there? Is she further aware that there is trouble on the way and that the Welsh local authorities are saying many things before they reach her office? Does she not realise that the best way to peace is to meet the requests of these authorities?

The hon. Gentleman said that he would like to be there. Perhaps he will communicate his desire to the Welsh Joint Education Committee. As to what these people say before they reach me, perhaps when they have heard what I have to say they will go away saying something different.

23.

asked the Minister of Education how far local education authorities are permitted to decide their own priorities with regard to the selection of what new schools shall be built in their areas.

Each year I invite local education authorities to list in order of priority the projects they wish me to include in the following year's programme and its reserve. I exclude from this list only those projects which fall outside the categories of work allowed by Circular 245, or which could without damage be deferred to a later programme, or which cannot reasonably be expected to start during the period. This, of course, is normally done in consultation with the authority.

Is the Minister aware that publicity has been given in the educational Press to a local authority in whose area No. 1 priority has been given to a school for a term of years, and that this has been crossed out by the Minister who has given priority to another school? Does she think that the woman in Whitehall knows best?

I do not say that the people in Northamptonshire who drew up that list necessarily knew best, for this reason. The school that was listed was chiefly for reorganisation and, therefore, did not come under the provisions of Circular 245. That particular school has now been put into the reserve list because, I think, by 1958 there will be more children coming to the school, and that is the date when it is required. The other schools are for more children who will be coming there before that time.

24.

asked the Minister of Education to what extent schools included in the reserve list for one year are included in the actual building programme for the following year.

If I put a new school project unconditionally in a reserve list, authorities can assume that it will be included in the following year's main programme unless there has been a marked change in circumstances or they satisfy me that alternative arrangements can be made to accommodate the children.

Does that mean that the proposed new school at Newton Hyde, which the Minister placed in the reserve list for 1954–55, will definitely be in the building programme for 1955–56?

I would have to refresh my memory about the school to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

New School, Trimdon

25.

asked the Minister of Education what consideration is being given to the representations made to her by the hon. Member for Sedgefield for the building of a new school at Trimdon village; and whether this school is to be commenced in the 1954–55 programme of the Durham County Council.

I cannot finally settle the Durham authority's school building programme for 1955–56 until I receive the further information from it for which I have asked. Meanwhile, its proposal to build a new infants' school at Trimdon has been included in the reserve list for that programme.

Who is responsible for determining the order of priority? Is it the right hon. Lady's Department or the county council? Is she aware that the parents in this area, which is a development area, are concerned at the number of accidents which have taken place on the highway which adjoins this new estate, through children having to travel to other parts of the district?

I have just informed the hon. Gentleman that the programme is not settled because I have asked for further information. When I get that further information I will consider the whole matter.

Gateshead

26.

asked the Minister of Education how far the county borough of Gateshead was permitted to select the type of schools to be built in its area in its latest building programme.

The Gateshead local education authority listed three secondary schools in order of priority for inclusion in its 1955–56 school building programme. I included the first in its main programme and an instalment of the second in its reserve list, and deferred the third.

Is the right hon. Lady not aware that this local authority has pressed for permission to be allowed to build a Roman Catholic grammar school in Gateshead and that she gave me an assurance some time ago that she hoped to go as far as possible in increasing the number of grammar school places in Gateshead? Is this not the wrong way to carry out her assurances?

No, I do not think it is. I think it is right to increase the number of secondary school places. Work on the new school which was started in March, 1953, will provide for about 700 children. The authority already has under construction a secondary school which will double the number of places in the maintained grammar schools. The third school was, I know, for Roman Catholic children, but arrangements are being made for the authority to take up a number of places in Roman Catholic independent and direct-grant schools. At present, it has 29, but it is to increase that number this August.

Small Trusts (Rural Parishes)

27.

asked the Minister of Education whether she will give an assurance that the many small trusts founded to further the betterment and education of children in rural parishes will be protected and the trustees encouraged, where necessary, to find new ways of carrying out the intentions of their founders rather than that the funds should be controlled centrally or merged into county founds.

I cannot give an assurance that I will not in any circumstances make use of the powers given me by Parliament under Section 2 of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1948, but it is my policy to help the trustees of individual educational charities to play a useful rôle wherever possible.

While thanking my right hon., Friend for that partial assurance, may I ask whether she can tell us whether she has torn up the proposals made in the days of her predecessors for looting these endowments in many counties? I should like to think that she has.

I do not know anything about looting in the time of any of my predecessors or in the time that I have been at the Ministry of Education.

Commonwealth Relations

Arms Thefts, Northern Ireland (Extradition Treaty)

30.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will initiate talks with the Government of the Irish Republic with a view to concluding an extradition treaty to cover individuals guilty of thefts of arms from military establishments in the United Kingdom and similar crimes.

No, Sir. I do not think that this would be appropriate.

Does my hon. Friend not consider that recent thefts of Crown property in Northern Ireland are extremely deplorable, and does he not think that it would help if an extradition treaty covering Northern Ireland were concluded?

No, Sir. There is a procedure in force for the mutual endorsement and execution of warrants of arrest between the Republic and Great Britain. With regard to the position in Northern Ireland, I am in consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary as to improving the position.

British Bases, Middle East (Consultations)

31.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what consultations have taken place between the United Kingdom Government and the various Commonwealth Governments on the future of British bases in the Middle East; and with what results.

In accordance with the usual practice, other Commonwealth Governments have been continuously informed of the views and intentions of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.

Do I understand from my hon. Friend that decisions are now come to rather than that consultations take place?

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Commonwealth Governments were, in fact, consulted and, if so, what were their views?

The answer to the first part of that supplementary question is "Yes," and the answer to the second part is that it is not the practice to give details of consultations between Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries.

Is it not better that this matter should be referred to the United Nations rather than that either the Commonwealth countries or ourselves should deal with it independently?

Is it the intention of Her Majesty's Government, in relation to defence in the Middle East, to include the question of a Middle East defence organisation?

Does not the hon. Gentleman know anything about it, or is he not permitted to say anything about it?

African Affairs Board (Grain Marketing Regulations)

32.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if the provisions of the Federal Government Notice No. 112, 1st April, 1954, Grain Marketing Regulations, 1954, and in particular Regulation No. 9, were considered by the African Affairs Board; and whether the Board made any report under the terms of Article 77 (i) of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Constitution.

The proceedings of the African Affairs Board are not within the control of the Secretary of State and he is not informed about them. No report by the Board on the Regulations mentioned has been received by the Secretary of State under Article 77 (2) of the Constitution.

As these regulations may have a serious effect on the prices paid to Africans for their goods, can the hon. Gentleman at least indicate that it is desirable that this matter should be considered with the African Affairs Board?

Commonwealth (New Members)

33.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what representations have been made and what consultations have taken place between Her Majesty's Government and other Commonwealth Governments with the intention of determining the most appropriate and acceptable means of accepting new members of the Commonwealth.

Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that this is a matter of some importance and should not be just laughed off? Membership of the Commonwealth of Nations is a very onerous and honourable position, and it should not depend merely on this country determining it but on the whole membership of the Commonwealth. Will he give a serious and constructive reply to this Question?

I quite agree with what the hon. Member has said about the importance of Commonwealth membership, and when the matter arises other Commonwealth members will be consulted, as was stated by the Prime Minister on 16th June, 1952.

Has not that already arisen in view of the possibility of two black Dominions ultimately coming into being and becoming members of the Commonwealth?

Will the hon. Member give an assurance that he himself and the Government will not be party to any settlement in which we have a two-tier system inside the Commonwealth, and that future black Dominions will be on an equal status with the present white Dominions in the Commonwealth?

As new problems of this kind may arise, and as it is obvious that they cannot be settled in a rush, when they do arise would it not be wise to have some preliminary consultations with the other Commonwealth Governments on the principles involved in this matter?

I will put the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion to my right hon. and noble Friend.

Trade And Commerce

Coin-Operated Phonographs

34.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the manufacturing capacity of British firms is capable of satisfying all foreseeable demands in this country for coin-operated phonographs; and whether, in view of this, he will prohibit the importation of such machines from Western Germany.

Coin-operated phonographs are admissible from Western Germany under the open general licence as gramophones, and I regret that my hon. Friend was informed on 8th July that they are included in the quota for amusement machinery. I understand that British firms have considerable manufacturing capacity for these machines, but I am not prepared to prohibit their import from Western Germany since such a prohibition is not necessary to safeguard our balance of payments.

As the Minister is not prepared to prohibit the importation of these machines, would he at least try to obtain an assurance from the importers that they will maintain the same standards of distribution of these machines as is at present operated by the United Kingdom manufacturers?

They are on open general licences in this country, and I do not think that we can impose on importers a condition about their distribution.

Racing (Industrial Production Loss)

35 and 36.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what estimate was made of the possible loss of industrial production through the running of the Two Thousand Guineas race on a Wednesday, the Epsom Derby on a Wednesday, the Royal Hunt Cup on a Wednesday and the forthcoming Goodwood Cup on a Thursday; and whether the Stewards of the Jockey Club were advised to run these races on a Saturday;

(2) what estimate was made of the possible loss of industrial production if the Doncaster St. Leger was run on a Wednesday; and why Her Majesty's Government advised the Jockey Club to change the traditional day from Wednesday to Saturday.

As regards the St. Leger, the Government have received strong representations about the serious effect which there would be on industrial production, particularly coal-mining, if this race were to be run once again on a Wednesday. Those representations were considered very carefully before my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power asked the Jockey Club to keep the St. Leger on a Saturday. No numerical estimates have been made of the loss of industrial production caused by running the St. Leger or continuing to run the other races, to which the hon. Member refers, in midweek.

We have received no representations about these other races, and we should not regard it as our business, save on the basis of some very substantial evidence, to request the Jockey Club to make alterations in the dates of these other races.

Are we to take it that Her Majesty's Government feel that those who attend the Two Thousand Guineas race in Cambridge, the Derby in Surrey, the Royal Hunt Cup in Berkshire, and the Goodwood Cup in Sussex are all non-workers and, therefore, production is of no account, and that only those in industrial Yorkshire are to be penalised because they cannot have their race meetings on a Wednesday?

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why the Government show no concern at all when these four southern classic races are held on any day that the Jockey Club feel disposed to hold them, and only interest themselves in the North—in Doncaster—as to whether the St. Leger shall be run on a Wednesday or a Saturday?

Very strong representations were made about the date of the St. Leger, and it was in the light of these representations that the request was made to the Jockey Club. No such representations have been made in the case of the other races. I am not anxious to extend the activities of Her Majesty's Government to suggesting when various races should be held.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 47 of the largest pits in Yorkshire are already taking their holidays during Doncaster race week and that it would have no material effect whatever on output if the St. Leger was run on the traditional day, Wednesday?

Will the President consult the Whips on both sides of the House about the desirability of running the Derby on a Saturday, and also consider the private views of the Prime Minister on the subject?

Can my right hon. Friend say from whom the representations have been received?

From the National Production Advisory Council for Industry, the Sheffield and Rotherham Productivity Committees, which include both sides of industry, and the National Coal Board.

Is this not gross discrimination in favour of the South against the North?

United Kingdom-Pakistan

37.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the prospects of increasing trade between this country and Pakistan, especially by Britain buying more Pakistan cotton and selling more textile machinery to Pakistan.

The prospect of increasing trade between the two countries will depend in part at least on the scale on which Pakistan cotton can be sold here. A Lancashire-Pakistan Cotton Committee has been formed to encourage the use of Pakistan cotton in Lancashire and a representative delegation from Pakistan attended the inaugural meeting last month. I very much hope that the Committee will be successful in achieving its purpose and that, as a result, there will be an expansion of trade between the two countries.

Commonwealth Countries (Preference Rates)

38.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the fact that the average rate of preference granted to Commonwealth countries is now roughly only half the level of prewar and that the rise in prices has reduced the value of specific preference margins, he will make an investigation into the adequacy of existing rates in readiness for the time when convertibility of sterling is restored.

I do not think that at this stage it would be useful to undertake an investigation in the sense my hon. Friend suggests.

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will undertake such an investigation before this contingency arises, and not after it?

My hon. Friend will recognise that there are two sides to the question: the preferences which we give, and the preferences which we receive. My hon. Friend's suggestion would involve almost a re-negotiation of all the preferences in the Ottawa Agreements. I suggest that we await the outcome of the discussions which we are having with the Commonwealth on the broad issues of policy that are involved before we go further in this matter.

Ne Trading Estate Factories

40.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many people, men and women, were employed in the factories in Sunderland administered by the North Eastern Trading Estates, Limited, on the latest available date.

On 29th May, 1954, the latest date for which official figures are available, 1,617 men and boys and 2,541 women and girls, making a total of 4,158, were employed in these factories.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these figures show a further decline in the numbers employed in these factories?

Yes, Sir. The decline in employment is due to the cessation of work in the two factories, of which the hon. Member is well aware.

41.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a further statement on the Trading Estate Company factories in Sunderland, at present vacant or not fully used.

I cannot add anything to what was said by my hon. and learned Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the hon. Member during the Adjournment debate on 16th July. If any development occurs of which the hon. Gentleman would wish to know while the House is in recess, I will get in touch with him straight away.

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. Do I understand that no decision has yet been taken about the third factory that is in danger of closing?

42.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that 250 more women have lost their employment on the Trading Estate at Sunderland; and what action he now proposes to take to promote more employment for women in Sunderland.

I understand that the hon. Member is referring to a factory which, though nearby, is not on the Pallion Trading Estate, and is not owned by the Government. This company hopes to re-engage these women workers in the autumn.

As regards the second part of the Question, I can add nothing to what was said by my hon. and learned Friend during the Adjournment debate on 16th July.

Polish Bilberries

43.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent he proposes to issue import licences this season for Polish bilberries; and to what extent the British firm which has contracted for the total exportable quantity of these bilberries will be enabled by such import licences to implement its contract.

As an interim measure, licences to a value of £125,000 for the import of Polish bilberries have already been issued this year and arrangements are now being made for the immediate issue of a further interim quota of £75,000. As regards contracts, no firm should enter into binding contract to act as importer without first ascertaining whether the goods will be admissible.

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that there is something incongruous in the fact that the firm which secured the contract for the whole of the Polish bilberry crop has been granted import licences for only one-quarter, whereas a firm which was unsuccessful in tendering has an import licence for the remaining three-quarters? If the Department continues by granting licences on a repeat performance basis, will it not lead, in the long run, to a complete monopoly by one firm? Would it not be better to open the whole thing to free competition, as exists in many other imports?

There is something incongruous about all forms of import licensing, but so long as it is necessary to maintain licensing one must have some system for distributing the licences. Up to the present we have tried to do it upon the basis of previous trade, but I shall be happy to discuss with my hon. and gallant Friend the problems to which he refers.

Film Industry (Eady Levy)

44.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the failure of the film industry to agree on a basis for continuing the Eady Levy, he will introduce a statutory scheme forthwith.

49.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the failure of the film producers and exhibitors to agree on the amount of the voluntary levy to aid film production and on the division of the recent tax reliefs, he will introduce statutory schemes for both purposes and place all sections of the film industry under his supervision and control.

I regret to say that while the other three associations concerned are willing to accept my suggestion to proceed at once to arbitration, the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association is not, at this time, prepared to agree that matters have reached a stage which makes arbitration appropriate. I still hope that agreement may be reached, but I think the interest of all concerned will be best served if I make no further statement at this stage.

Does the President not think it would encourage the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association to agree to arbitration if he would make a categorical statement that he will introduce legislation in the event of failure to agree? Will he state, also, that this legislation will be made retrospective to the end of the present voluntary agreement?

I do not want to elaborate upon this rather complex problem at present, but I certainly have not departed from the statement I made previously about the necessity of having a scheme of this kind, if necessary by statutory means.

While I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to get too deeply involved in this business at the moment, will he bear in mind that he has a public responsibility in this matter and that in these discussions the interests of the cinemagoers, who pay for the industry and keep it going, ought to be borne in mind?

The industry, too, has a responsibility in this matter to try to arrive at a sensible solution of its own problems.

Film Producing Companies (Operations)

50.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will arrange for the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission to inquire into the operations of film-producing companies which also control film laboratories and have substantial ownership of cinemas.

As it is an odds on chance that the President will have to intervene in this industry owing to the failure of the trade associations in it to come to some agreement, would it not be as well to have a better picture of the structure of the industry, how it operates and how the big concerns dominate it through a report from the Monopolies Commission?

I have considerable doubt whether Monopolies Commission legislation would cover such a matter. There is a good deal of legislation dealing with monopoly inside the film industry, such as the Cinematograph Films Acts, and I think it is better to deal with those problems under Acts concerned with the film industry rather than by outside legislation.

Film Projectors (Price-Fixing)

53.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will refer to the Monopolies Commission the price-fixing arrangements made among themselves by the suppliers of projectors and other equipment for the showing of stereophonic sound films.

I am not sure what arrangements the hon. Member has in mind, but, if he will let me have details, I will consider the matter further.

Imported Goods (Marking)

51.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give a decision about the withdrawal of the option under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, which allows imported goods which are required to be marked to bear the words "Foreign" or "Empire" instead of the name of the country of origin.

The matter is still under consideration, but I hope to announce a decision on policy soon.

Monopoly Commission Investigations (Time)

54.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the average time now taken by the Monopolies Commission to investigate a case and to report on a case, respectively.

An investigation is not completed until the Commission's report is signed. For the three reports made during the three months ended last June, the average time between the making of the reference and the signature of the report was just under 23 months. But these averages are of little significance since some inquiries necessarily involve more work than others.

Us Contracts (British Tenders)

52.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reply he has received to the representations made to the United States Government about the award of contracts for the Chief Joseph and Dalles Dams to United States firms in spite of a tender by the English Electric Company at lower prices.

No reply has been received as yet, but I understand that we may expect one shortly.

57.

asked the President of the Board of Trade in how many cases in the past three years British firms have been refused contracts by the United States Government although their tenders have been lower than competing American firms; and whether he has drawn the attention of the United States Government to each of these violations of the principles of fair competition.

United States Government procurement extends over an immense field and Her Majesty's Government do not necessarily hear of all cases where British firms have been unsuccessful. I am, however, aware of three cases in the last three years where the British bid, though both the lowest of all bids submitted and fully compliant, was rejected; and in each of these, representations were made to the United States Government.

Motor Vehicles (Export To Canada)

55.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the decline in the volume of our exports of motor vehicles to Canada; and what he is doing to remedy this.

Yes, Sir. I am aware of the drop in our exports to Canada of motor vehicles. It is due partly to a fall in the demand for new cars and partly to intensified competition by United States and Canadian manufacturers. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply and I are in close touch with our manufacturers on export and other problems affecting the industry, but I can give no assurance of an early reversal of a situation which arises mainly from conditions in Canada.

Uk Trade Commissioner, Canada (Staff)

56.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has for increasing the staff of the United Kingdom Trade Commissioner in Canada.

The staff needs of the Trade Commissioner offices in Canada are kept under constant review, and two additional Assistant Trade Commissioners have been sent to Canada this year.

Is the President sure that that is enough staff to tackle the enormous problems which confront us in this dollar market, which is becoming even more important in view of the trend in the United States as shown by recent tariff changes?

I think so. Only recently I had a good opportunity of seeing how our Trade Commissioners work but I am fully alive to this matter and am keeping it under review. If any additional staff is necessary I will see that it is made available.

Prime Minister (Answers To Questions)

45.

asked the Prime Minister on how many days of the week he will answer Oral Questions in the House after the Recess.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the most convenient days to me, but hon. Members can, of course, put down Questions for any Sitting day, except Friday.

While we welcome the implied assurance that the right hon. Gentleman will still be Prime Minister in the present Administration after the Recess, is he aware that some inconvenience is caused to hon. Members who put Questions down on days other than the two he has mentioned when we get to know only a short while beforehand that the Prime Minister will not be present? I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are all very interested in his future movements.

International Relations

46.

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made towards meeting Mr. Malenkov.

I have nothing to add to the statement which I made to the House as recently as the day before yesterday. I said then that Her Majesty's Government intend to take all possible steps, of whatever nature, to decrease tension; but the situation is complex and I cannot yet be more specific on this point.

Does the Prime Minister recollect that a few weeks ago, in reply to a similar Question, he referred to a horse in the Grand National not being expected to jump two obstacles at once? Does he not agree that if any horse was as hesitant as he is himself about his second hurdle, it would meet a rather sticky end? Will the Prime Minister see that he is not restrained until it is too late by those who yesterday acclaimed Syngman Rhee as the champion of freedom and liberty?

I am sure that that supplementary question is as clear to the House as it is to me.

Civil Service And Parliament (Relationship)

47.

asked the Prime Minister if he will recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate and report upon the relationship of the Civil Service to Ministers and Parliament.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the usual type of reply which seems to be supplied to him either by the 1922 Committee or by the Civil Service, may I, in all sincerity, ask him whether he does not think that because of the growing complexity of modern Government there is a need to clarify the relationship of the Civil Service to Ministers and Members of Parliament? I assure the right hon. Gentleman that this Question was not put down in any vindictive spirit but merely to clarify the position between the Civil Service and Ministers and Members of Parliament.

I think it is a great mistake to assume that a Royal Commission offers an immediate solution to great problems. Much thought is given to this matter, and custom and practice build upon each other. On the whole, I believe that in this country the best results have been achieved that have so far been experienced by modern Governments.

Atomic Energy (Commonwealth Conference)

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will reconsider calling a Commonwealth conference to co-ordinate policy for the production of uranium, research and the use of atomic energy in industrial processes.

No, Sir. I see no reason to disturb the current arrangements, outlined by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply in his reply to the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) on 17th November last, which are working satisfactorily.

Would the Prime Minister agree that it would be necessary in the future to set up a permanent Commonwealth standing committee to work with the United States and other free countries in the peaceful development of this new force?

It may well be that something of that kind will eventuate, particularly when we consider how the importance of this subject grows from year to year and that the close connection of the Commonwealth is also strengthened.

National Finance

Cement Works, Strood (Rating Assessment)

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it has yet been possible to reach agreement about the assessment for rating purposes of cement works in the area of the Strood Rural District Council.

University Teachers' Salaries

60.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that, apart from an increase in salaries below £600 per annum, the range of salaries laid down in 1949 for university teachers is still in operation; whether he is satisfied that these salaries are adequate; and what representations he has received on this matter in recent months.

Apart from an increase in 1952 for junior staffs, existing rates of pay are those announced by Sir Stafford Cripps on 15th March, 1949. Revision of academic salaries is now under consideration, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that since that time there has been a considerable increase in professional salaries generally—about 30 per cent.—and that university teachers have a strong case for reconsideration of these scales?

I have no doubt that that point is being put forward in the course of these discussions that are taking place.

Would the Economic Secretary bear in mind that there is a very great difference between the medical and non-medical teaching staffs at the universities and that this alone is a cause of offence to those who are not so happy as to be medical people?

University Grants Committee (Welsh Representation)

62.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps have been taken, or will be taken, to secure representation from Wales on the University Grants Committee.

Though the members of the University Grants Committee are chosen to cover among them the main fields of university study, as well as certain interests outside the universities, they serve in a personal capacity and not as representatives.

International Bank (Sterling Loan)

63.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the purpose of the sterling loan recently raised by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the London market.

The purpose of the loan of £5 million which the International Bank is now raising on the London market is to provide the Bank with sterling for lending to borrowers outside the sterling Commonwealth.

Dividends (Distribution Rate)

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the rate of dividend distribution by public companies in the first six months of this year as compared with the similar period for 1953.

The figures available show that the shareholders' gross return on invested capital for the first six months of 1954 was about 6 per cent. compared with about 5·4 per cent. for the same period last year.

Could not the hon. Gentleman also tell us what has been the absolute increase as well as the increase relating to the amount of invested capital?

If the hon. Gentleman would put that question on the Order Paper I would be glad to give him the information, but it would be very misleading information.

Private Industry (Capital Investments)

65.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he can give about current rates of capital investments in private industry.

I regret that I have no current figures. The figures for 1953 were published in the Economic Survey, 1954.

Is the hon. Gentleman unable to give us any indication of the effect of the Budget and its investment allowances on the rate of capital investment?

I think it is too early in July to hope for evidence of the effects of the Budget on investment through the investment allowances. It takes a little while for investment allowances to bear fruit through the building of plant.

Houses (Estate Duty Valuation)

66.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date, in the valuation of houses for the payment of Estate Duty on small estates, the term "vacant possession," and the concession made in 1944 in relation to the valuation of houses became the identical basis of calculation; and whether the directive to district valuers will be placed in the Library of the House.

The statutory and concessional values for Estate Duty purposes of owner-occupied houses within the scope of the concession have now tended to coincide in some cases but not in all, and not as from any common date. No directive has been issued to district valuers in this connection; the assessment of the concessional figure is essentially a question of valuation and depends on the circumstances of each individual case.

Is my hon. Friend aware that his answer is most unsatisfactory and that I am sending his right hon. Friend particulars of cases? Is he also aware that 1953 is the date by which the change of policy came into operation, and that, when the House reassembles, I hope he will be able to give me a better answer?

So far as that question conflicts with my statement, I cannot accept the point of view of my hon. Friend.

National And Tate Galleries (Trustees)

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why Her Majesty's Government have departed from the hitherto customary policy of not appointing civil servants to the boards of trustees of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery; and what other departures from precedent in this respect have taken place during the past decade.

Trustees of the National and Tate Galleries are chosen for their general suitability. In recent years it has not been customary to appoint serving civil servants other than as ex-officio trustees. One present trustee is now a civil servant, though at the time of his appointment he was not in the Civil Service. Thus there is not any marked departure from precedent.

Business Of The House

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he has a statement to make about the business of the House on our resumption after the Recess?

Yes, Sir. The business for the first week after the Summer Recess will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 19TH OCTOBER and WEDNESDAY, 20TH OCTOBER—Report and Third Reading: Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill, until 7 o'clock.

Second Reading: Overseas Resources Development Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

THURSDAY, 21ST OCTOBER—Draft Housing (Review of Contributions) Order.

Motions for Addresses: International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) Orders.

Draft Insurance Contracts (War Settlement) (Finland and Italy) Orders.

FRIDAY, 22ND OCTOBER—Second Reading: Pests Bill [ Lords].

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, for the convenience of hon. Members, having regard to the forthcoming debate, whether there have been any more Ministerial resignations this morning?

Since the Civil Defence Bill is one of the few sensible steps taken in this field recently, and since it has already left another place, why is it not to be dealt with as soon as we get back in the autumn?

I am only talking about the first week when we return. I thought the hon. Gentleman was among those who were wanting the Pests Bill.

I want the Civil Defence Bill as soon as possible, and "as soon as possible" means the first week when we return.

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to take the Overseas Resources Development Bill late at night, or is it to be taken at a reasonable time of day?

What I said was that the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill would be taken until about 7 o'clock on the Wednesday. I hope the right hon. Gentleman considers that a proper arrangement.

Would the Lord Privy Seal take the Teachers Superannuation Bill during the week we come back, so as to prevent another Cabinet resignation?

Osborne House Private Apartments (Opening)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement about Osborne House.

On the occasion of King Edward VII's Coronation and by reason of the Osborne Estate Act, 1902, Osborne House, in the Isle of Wight, became part of the public property of the Crown to be administered by the Ministry of Works. The Act directed that the House should be used as a memorial of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria. Since that date certain rooms which had been in the personal occupation of Queen Victoria, including that in which she died, have been maintained exactly as they were and never shown to visitors.

This year marks the jubilee of the opening of the House and Her Majesty the Queen has commanded that these rooms should now be open to the public. Her Majesty has also offered on permanent loan the furnishings and works of art which are lodged in Osborne House or in the Swiss Cottage and Museum. These objects are to remain permanently at Osborne and I shall have the duty and charge of maintaining and administering the collection in the interests of the visiting public and of the patients of the King Edward VII Convalescent Home.

I have had the honour to accept Her Majesty's gracious offer. It is hoped that the private apartments can be opened to the public early next year.

Adjournment (Summer)

It may be for the convenience of hon. Members who are interested in the Adjournment Motion tomorrow to know that, owing to the change of business which has been announced, I have had to re-allocate the times. In brief, the only change is that I propose to put down the debate on disarmament as the first item from 11 o'clock until 1.15, and the other subjects I have allotted will be proportionately postponed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Tuesday, 19th October."—[ The Prime Minister.]

3.36 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman
(Nelson and Colne)