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Commons Chamber

Volume 560: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1956

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 21st November, 1956

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Messages From The Queen

Double Taxation Relief

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

I have received your Address praying that, on the ratification by the Government of the Republic of Austria of the Convention set out in the schedule to the draft of an Order entitled the Double Taxation Relief ( Taxes on Income) ( Austria) Order, 1956, a copy of which was presented on thirty-first October in the last session of Parliament, an order be made in the form of that draft.

I will comply with your request.

Supplies And Services (Transitional Powers) And Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions)

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

I have received your Addresses praying that the Supplies and Services ( Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, and the various Defence Regulations and enactments which you specify be continued in force respectively for a further period of one year until the tenth day of December, nineteen hundred and fifty-seven.

I will give directions accordingly.

Patents And Designs

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

I have received your Addresses praying that the Patents ( Extension of Period of Emergency) Order, 1956, and the Registered Designs ( Extension of Period of Emergency) Order, 1956, be made in the form of the respective drafts laid before Parliament.

I will comply with your request.

Oral Answers To Questions

Post Office

10, Downing Street (Mail)

2.

asked the Postmaster-General what action he has taken during the past few weeks to deal with the delivery of the additional amount of mail to 10, Downing Street, S.W.1; whether he will state the extra amount of staff and/or man-hours put on to the sorting and delivery of this mail; and whether he will give an estimate of the percentage of increase of mail compared with last May.

No special measures were necessary. An organisation which delivers over 30 million letters a day can face with equanimity temporary increases in individual deliveries, whether to the Prime Minister or to the hon. Member for West Ham. North (Mr. Lewis).

While thanking the Postmaster-General for that reply, may I ask him whether we can therefore feel sure that there have been no protests from the postmen concerned about the added mail which has arisen as a result of the protests about the Government's action in Suez?

I am not responsible for the contents of the mail the Post Office delivers but only for its speedy and efficient transit.

Does this interest by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) in No. 10, Downing Street mean that one day he hopes to go there?

Advertisements (Correspondence Colleges)

3.

asked the Postmaster-General whether, in future, he will decline to accept for insertion in stamp-books or other Post Office material advertisements from correspondence colleges and other institutions claiming that, by coaching, they can secure for children entrance to grammar schools.

I am considering the matter raised by the hon. Member and will write to him later.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that on the back of a stamp-book I have here is a picture of a rejoicing family with the words,

"He's Passed! Thanks to —'s correspondence college. So can your child. Simplified Postal Courses specially written to prepare children for Grammar School Entrance Examinations".
Is he further aware that the Minister of Education said last week in the course of a Parliamentary answer,
"I cannot believe anyone takes seriously a claim that coaching will get any child a place in a grammar school."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 15th Nov., 1956; Vol. 560, c. 32.]
Does he not agree that it is undesirable for the Government to get advertisement revenue from claims which the Government themselves say are bogus?

I, too, have a copy of the advertisement, and I share some of the hon. Member's uneasiness at any advertisement which purports to coach children for the 11-plus examination. It is because of that uneasiness that I am looking into the matter and will subsequently write to the hon. Member.

Books (Postage Rates)

4.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that it costs almost twice as much to send a single copy of a book by post from one London address to another as it does to send the same book from London to Australia; and if he will accordingly review the recent increases in charges in inland printed paper rates.

To the first part of the Question the Answer is "Yes, Sir". In reply to the second part, the overseas service is running at a substantial loss and I should not feel justified in incurring a corresponding loss on the inland service.

May I, none the less, ask my right hon. Friend if he is aware of the possibility that the Post Office may lose all this internal business to other forms of transport unless some kind of review, as regards single books in particular, can be made?

I do not share my hon. Friend's gloomly forebodings about the loss on the inland service. I ought to say that the loss on the overseas service is £3½ million, but, for a number of reasons which hon. Members will appreciate, it did not seem right to increase the charges for overseas services, and we are continuing to bear that loss.

Savings Accounts (Mental Hospital Patients)

5.

asked the Postmaster-General whether, under his regulations, a patient admitted to a mental hospital on a temporary certificate under Section 5 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1930, is entitled to retain his Post Office Savings book and operate his Post Office Savings account.

Nothing in the Post Office Savings Bank regulations prevents a patient admitted under Section 5 of the Mental Treatment Act, 1930, from retaining his book. Under Section 5 (16) of that Act, however, a person admitted to a mental hospital under Section 5 is automatically brought within the scope of Part IV of the Lunacy Act, 1890, the one dealing with management and administration of property. Post Office regulations do preclude persons covered by Part IV, of the Lunacy Act from operating their post office accounts, though withdrawals may be made by any committee of the estate or other proper person.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long this disability lasts, in view of the fact that the whole point of a temporary certificate is that the patient may recover volition at any time?

That is, of course, more a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, but I can say that the temporary certificate to which the hon. Gentleman refers lasts for six months. If at any time throughout that six months the patient is regarded as having recovered his volition then, in fact, the limit becomes 28 days.

Christmas Mail (Forces, Middle East)

7.

asked the Postmaster-General what advice he will give to relatives of members of Her Majesty's Forces engaged in the Middle East concerning the posting of parcels for Christmas.

Latest dates for the posting of Christmas parcels and letters to members of Her Majesty's Forces engaged in Egypt and the Middle East have been extensively advertised. Full advantage is being taken of all available methods of sending air and surface mail to these Forces and I have every hope that all mail posted by the latest advertised times will be delivered by Christmas Day.

Television

Ita (Grant Application)

6.

asked the Postmaster-General what requests for financial aid he has had from the Independent Television Authority; and what action he is taking.

The I.T.A. has asked that provision for a grant under Section 11 of the Television Act be included in the 1957–58 Estimates. I hope to be able to announce a decision shortly.

May we expect an early statement about this proposed grant to the I.T.A. to assist in a proper balance of programmes? If I put down a Question for next week, will the Postmaster-General be able to announce something definite?

Is the right hon. Gentleman giving any direction to the I.T.A. about future commercial advertising from the petrol companies in view of the present situation?

As the hon. Gentleman fully realises, that is another and a different question. If the hon. Gentleman puts it on the Order Paper, I will be glad to answer it.

Royal Air Force

Overseas Allowance

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Air why corporals and below stationed in Germany, unlike all higher ranks, get no increase in their overseas allowance when accompanied by their families.

The extra expense to which corporals and aircraftmen serving in Germany are put when separated from their families is thought to justify the same allowances as when their families are living with them.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the fact that sergeants are getting three and a half times more as overseas allowance when their families are stationed with them than are corporals and those in the ranks is causing great discontent? Does not he appreciate that the wife of the corporal or the ranker has to pay just as much for the clothes for her children, for their food, and so on, and will he look into this matter again and thus remove a genuine grievance?

We are of the opinion that it is right and proper for a sergeant to be able to maintain a higher standard of living, not only for himself but also for his family, than airmen of lower ranks.

Discharges By Purchase

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many officers and other ranks, respectively, have purchased their discharges in each of the last five years to the latest convenient date.

As the Answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the hon. Gentleman give one figure for one year so that we may compare the conditions in the Air Force with those of the Army, the figures for which were given yesterday?

Certainly. For airmen the figures are: in 1952, 563; 1953, 677; 1954, 1,134; 1955, 1,269; and 1956, 926.

Following are the figures:

19521953195419551956
Officers permitted to leave the Service before completing their full period on the active list
R.A.F.80105128191145
W.R.A.F.5140757049
Airmen and airwomen discharged by purchase
R.A.F.56367711341269926
W.R.A.F.321256149246117

NOTE

(1) 242 of the W.R.A.F. officers left the Service on marriage.

(2) 2168 of the airmen, and 428 of the airwomen, were allowed to take their discharge for compassionate reasons, and the purchase price was either reduced or waived.

(3) The figures for 1952 and 1953 reflect the restrictions which were placed on voluntary exits during the Korean war.

Airfield, Dundee (Use)

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what representations were made to him during his recent visit to the City of Dundee concerning an airport suitable for civil air services from the city; and what answer he gave.

My right hon. Friend was asked when civil aircraft would be serving the district. He answered that he understood neither B.E.A. nor any of the independent companies had made proposals to run such a service.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that negotiations are at present going on for a civil air service from Dundee? In the event of such a service being established, can he give an assurance that every possible assistance will be given by his Department towards the establishment of a civil airport for it?

We see no great difficulties in providing such airfield facilities as would be necessary, but so far as we are aware no request has been made either by B.E.A. or by any of the independent operators as yet.

Roads

Widening Scheme, Newcastle-Under-Lyme

11.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what reply he has sent to the letter to his Department from the town clerk of Newcastle-under-Lyme, dated 29th October, concerning the accident statistics on Clayton Road, A519; and if he will now reconsider his decision about the road widening scheme.

I have replied that, in the opinion of the police, these accidents were caused by irresponsible driving and not by the nature of the road. I see no reason, therefore, to change my decision about the road widening scheme.

Would not the Minister pay a litle more regard to local opinion in this matter? Is he not aware that many of my constituents who live on this road and, almost unanimously, the members of the town council are most anxious about this rise in the number of accidents which they attribute to the increasing traffic on the road owing to congestion on the A34? Would not he therefore have another look at the matter, because most of my constituents will disagree with this advice that has been given?

I am always willing to look at any of these difficult accident problems. It is only fair to say, and I think the hon. Member probably knows this, that the seven accidents referred to in the town clerk's letter of 29th October, were, in the opinion of the police, all due to irresponsible driving and not to the road conditions.

12.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why he refuses to receive a civic deputation from Newcastle-under-Lyme on the subject of Clayton Road, A519, the widening of which the Newcastle-under-Lyme council considers to be urgent in the interests of road safety.

For the reasons given in the letter to the town clerk dated 3rd August, 1956, a copy of which I sent to the hon. Member at the time, I did not think it right to put the council to the trouble and expense of sending a deputation to see me. I cannot, in present circumstances, give priority to the scheme for widening this road.

Is not it rather unusual for the Minister to take this attitude? Is he not aware that this deputation was unanimously requested by the members of the council who have formed the view that, to the best of their knowledge, this road-widening scheme is urgent in the interests of road safety? Should not the Minister in these circumstances at least be prepared to listen to the views of the men on the spot who have the responsibility?

I have no objection—either myself or my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary—to seeing the deputation, but I must warn the hon. Member that they may well go to the expense of coming for nothing.

Silverdale—Scot Hay Road Staffordshire (Repairs)

14.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will now give loan sanction for the repair and adoption as public highway of the road from Silverdale via Crackley Gates to Scot Hay in Staffordshire, which was last repaired at Government expense thirteen years ago.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
(Mr. Hugh Molson)

My right hon. Friend has only just received an application for loan sanction for this work. He will decide as soon as possible what recommendation he will give to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of this problem? I have asked Parliamentary Questions about it in, I think, each of the last three years. Is not he therefore aware that my constituents have been extraordinarily patient in waiting for nearly fourteen years now for this road to be repaired? Will not he give it absolute expedition and first priority in consideration for loan sanction?

The responsibility for the delay does not rest with my Department. It is only since I came into the House that I have heard that the application has been received. My right hon. Friend will deal with the matter immediately.

Speed Limit (Derestriction Signs)

15.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what evidence he has received that the placing of speed limit derestriction signs in villages where the 30 miles-per-hour limit has been removed at the request of the police is resulting in reckless driving; and if he will allow highway authorities discretion in the use of derestriction signs.

I have no evidence that these signs have encouraged reckless driving. If the speed limit is to be respected, motorists must be told clearly where it does not apply, although the road may be lighted.

Will my right hon. Friend look further into this, as it is undesirable that his Department should require de-restriction signs to be put up at danger points in villages on the main roads? It results in people thinking "All clear—I can drive as fast as I like." Would it not be much better to leave this decision to the local highway authorities?

I have read the correspondence very carefully, and I quite agree that, in special instances, there may be something in what my hon. Friend says. If there are any special cases, I am prepared to look at them, but, on the general principle, I think it is only fair to the motorist to tell him clearly when there is a 30 m.p.h. limit and when there is not.

Durham Relief Road

16.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he has any statement to make on the new trunk road through Durham.

A new trunk road through the county of Durham is shown in the county development plan, but I cannot say when it will be possible to include it in the road programme. If, however, the hon. Member has in mind the question of a new relief road in Durham City—which is a county road proposal—the present position is that the traffic figures have been analysed and the two councils are preparing alternative plans to compare costs.

With regard to the latter part of that Answer, may I ask when agreement is likely to be reached on this matter?

That does not, I am afraid, entirely rest with my Department, but I hope that they will get on with the job.

Great North Road, Framwellgate Moor

17.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what attempts are being made to make the Great North Road at Framwellgate Moor, Durham, safer.

A special propaganda campaign was carried out on this length of road last May, and we are considering whether anything further can be done to make it safer until the proposed by-pass can be constructed.

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware that approximately 10,000 vehicles pass through this area in a day, and that it is a very dangerous area in any case? As a matter of fact, this stretch has become known as the "Death Mile." While one appreciates that, as a result of petrol rationing, there may be a reduction in the number of vehicles which will pass through the area, may we be assured that the right hon. Gentleman will not make this an excuse to delay any scheme that might be put forward to make this area safe?

It was because we did realise that there were a large number of accidents on this stretch of road that we had a "Red Area" scheme carried out in the month of May this year. We can judge of the efficacy of that only when we have the figures of the accidents in the following six months and compare them with the previous six months. As soon as we have those figures, I will write to the hon. Member on the subject.

May I press the Minister further on that? There may have been some schemes put forward to him. Will he not make of this reduction in traffic resulting from petrol rationing an excuse to delay any scheme that might be put forward?

We do not look for excuses for delay in anything at all. I am very glad that, in the case of the designing of the by-pass road, the Durham County Council, of its own volition and without any request from us, is preparing the necessary engineering details in order that there may be no delay when we have the money available for the bypass road. But I must warn the hon. Member that, at the moment, we have not the money available for the new construction.

Programme

21.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will make a statement on the 1955 Report of the Road Research Board; and, in particular, on its conclusion that the present road programme has no hope of keeping pace with the increasing traffic.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the Answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) on 31st October, which said that the Government have in hand the largest roads programme which, in their view, is possible in present economic circumstances.

Do the Government accept the principle that if we are to prosper in an increasingly competitive world we must have efficient transport facilities? If so, when are the Government going to give them to us?

I certainly accept the principle, and that includes railways, air transport and a great many other things as well as roads.

Improvements

22.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many men were employed on road improvements in 1938, 1951 and today.

I am afraid I cannot supply my hon. and gallant Friend with figures in the precise form he requires. What details I have contain a number of figures, and I will circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following are the details:

Returns which are available indicate that shortly before the war 126,083 men were directly employed by highway authorities. In 1951 the number of men directly employed was 84,297 and in addition 5,703 men were employed by contractors on behalf of highway authorities. In March, 1956, the corresponding figures were 78,626 and 8,621. All these figures refer to road maintenance as well as improvements. During this period, of course, there has been a very substantial increase in mechanisation both in road maintenance and in road improvements.

Parking Meters

24.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress has been made in preparing experimental schemes for the installation of parking meters; and when the first scheme is likely to be in operation.

The Committee which I set up in March to survey the parking position in inner London has submitted a Report, which will be published shortly; it includes certain proposals for the initiation of parking schemes. The relevant sections of the Road Traffic Act, 1956, will be brought into force on 1st January, 1957; thereafter it is for the local authorities responsible for initiating schemes to put their proposals to me. I have every hope that they will do so.

Can the Minister say when it is likely that the first parking schemes will come into operation? Will it be during the next six months or so; and is it only in inner London that an early scheme is likely to be initiated, or might there be one outside?

In reply to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question, the initiative, as I have said, clearly rests with the local authorities, but I am very hopeful that some of the inner London authorities—I will not mention them by name—will come forward quite soon with schemes, once the plan is published. As to areas outside London, I am afraid I cannot answer that without notice, but I will try to answer it if the right hon. Gentleman puts down a Question on the subject.

Trunk Roads

27.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what mileage of trunk roads was constructed in each of the financial years 1950–51 to 1955–56, respectively; and what it is estimated will be constructed in 1956–57 and any other future years for which figures are available.

One hundred and thirty-five and a half miles of trunk road, either new or realigned or widened, were built in the years 1950–56. I will circulate figures for each year in the OFFICIAL REPORT. In 1956–57 and the following two years I hope to authorise a further 400 miles of this work. This includes the first section of the London—Yorkshire motorway, the Birmingham—Preston motorway and the Ross Spur between Upton-on-Severn and Ross-on-Wye. It is not possible to say how much of this work will be completed each year.

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that what he authorises is carried into effect as speedily as possible, and will he reconsider the amount of the mileage with a view to meeting the very urgent need that exists?

If my arithmetic is correct, up till 1956 we managed to build only about 25 miles a year. In this year and the next two years I hope to authorise 125 miles a year, which is at least progress.

Would the right hon. Gentleman state how many of those 125 miles will be actually constructed? Is he aware that it is one thing to authorise but it is another thing to construct?

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman, but equally if we do not authorise them we shall never construct them.

Following are the figures:

1950–5119½ miles
1951–5224½ miles
1952–5312½ miles
1953–5414 miles
1954–5527 miles
1955–5638 miles
Total135½ miles

Barking By-Pass (Dual Carriageway)

28.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when the Barking by-pass double carriageway is to be completed.

We hope to authorise the acquisition of the necessary land within the next two months. If no difficulties arise, constructional work should start next year and take about fifteen months to complete.

Footpaths

29.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether the review of the national highway system which is being undertaken by a special planning section of his Department will include a review of the footpaths deficiencies on many busy main roads.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that answer, may I ask him whether he will call the attention of those carrying out this review to the grave inadequacy of the pavements in some of the shopping areas, forcing pedestrians on to the road, and will he also call the attention of those carrying out this review to the pernicious habit of parking on pavements?

I do not think it is necessary to draw the attention of the Department to those points when it is carrying out this review. The whole of the matter will be carefully considered.

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that, however important it may be to have adequate footpaths in busy main roads, there are in the countryside and rural areas hundreds of miles of made-up footpaths, particularly in sparsely populated areas, which are rarely used, thus indicating a great waste of public money? When this review is undertaken, will the Minister have this point in mind?

Yes, Sir. Our policy is to provide footpaths where pedestrian and other traffic warrants them. I agree with my hon. Friend that to provide footpaths in the depths of the country is wasteful of money and of land. I am glad to say that, generally speaking, since the war a more realistic policy has been followed in this matter by most of the highway authorities.

May I ask the Minister not to accept as a principle that footpaths should not be constructed in the countryside, because there is the safety factor to consider, which is very important, where traffic travels at very high speeds in country lanes?

That is why I said, having chosen my words with great care,

"where pedestrian and other traffic warrants them."
There are undoubtedly many cases, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. L. Thomas) has referred to, where we have footpaths in the depths of the country with no pedestrian in sight.

Safety Campaign (Children)

30.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will make a statement on the progress of the "Mind That Child" campaign for the safety of children on the roads.

Substantial progress has been made since the "Mind That Child" campaign was launched by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself on 4th September. Local road safety committees and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have joined with us in carrying on the campaign with great vigour, and we have received much help from many individuals and organisations. I am particularly pleased that more local authorities are taking part than in any previous road safety campaign. I will circulate some further details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

While congratulating my right hon. Friend on the progress made in this campaign up to the present, may I ask him whether he does not think that better progress might have been made if the propaganda in pamphlets and posters had been directed to all road users? Is he aware that so far the campaign has been directed only towards pedestrians, cyclists and commercial drivers, and that no pamphlets or posters have been issued by way of direction to the ordinary motorist?

I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend means, but if he means that it is wrong to concentrate on a specific objective in a road safety campaign, I do not agree with him. I think one must concentrate on specific objects if one wants to get good results. Although I think we must treat the figures with some reserve at this stage, I am very glad to say that in the first two months of the campaign 24 fewer children were killed on the roads than in the same two months last year.

Following is the information:

Provisional figures show that in the first two months of the campaign there were 24 fewer children killed on the roads than in the same two months of 1955. While this result is encouraging, it should not be taken as a comprehensive measure of the value of the campaign. I hope its spirit and its effects will continue long after its official ending in nine days' time and will lead to a progressive improvement in the safety of children on the roads.
The movement to provide more and better training facilities for child cyclists is gathering momentum. During October more than 5,000 children passed the Cycling Proficiency Test of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Trent Bridge, Nottingham

31.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will make a statement on the negotiations being conducted between his Department and the Corporation of Nottingham regarding the connecting main roads to the new Trent Bridge at Clifton, Nottingham.

When in Nottingham in connection with the road safety campaign, I was shown the site of the proposed road. At my invitation, a memorandum dealing with the project has now been sent to me and the Department is now examining it.

Is the Minister aware that, while this project is of local importance, it is also of immense importance to the national road network? Will he bear in mind that aspect of the matter when he is considering the whole affair?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the town clerk and the surveyor impressed all these arguments upon me when they showed me the site.

Durham Road, Stockton-On-Tees (Speed Limit)

32.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will review his decision not to impose a speed limit on the stretch of Durham Road, Stockton-on-Tees, between the borough boundary and the Mile House Hotel.

The decision to remove the speed limit automatically imposed by the installation of street lighting was taken earlier this year after a full public inquiry. The reasons for my decision were stated fully in the Adjournment debate on 27th April initiated by the hon. Member. I am afraid that I can add nothing to what my right hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary then said.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since that Adjournment debate took place, there have been two more fatal accidents, one involving a child, and will he consider, in conjunction with the local authority, whether any steps can be taken to draw attention to the particularly dangerous nature of this road in order to ensure greater safety for children on the estate?

A1 (Dual Carriageways)

34.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether work being carried out on road A1, at Tempsford, includes the provision of dual carriageways in conformity with the policy for this road.

The existing carriageway is being improved in preparation for the provision of a second carriageway to the east of the present road.

Does the Minister recall the statement he made some time ago with regard to the provision of dual carriageways here? Is it his intention to carry into effect the undertaking which he gave at that time?

I do not recall exactly what the undertaking is to which the hon. Member is referring. A short length of new road, known as the Tempsford Bridge diversion, will be constructed with a single 24-foot carriageway to take the south-bound traffic only. Ultimately the new road and bridge on that diversion will be widened to take a second carriageway, and the existing road and bridge will then be de-trunked; but that will not be for many years to come.

Why will my right hon. Friend persist in building single carriageways as narrow as 24 feet? If one is going to widen this great road to the North and provide for dual carriageway, each carriageway ought to be at least 30 feet wide.

We must make the best use of the money available at the present time. Sometimes it is possible to carry out a substantial improvement now and make provision for a widening of some kind in the future. In the general interest of making the best use of the money available for the country as a whole, we do frequently have to carry out improvements which are not as comprehensive as we hope they ultimately will be.

As it appears extremely wasteful when building a new road not to build to an adequate size for the future, can we at least have an undertaking that where the carriageway is not of such adequate size there is always sufficient space left for making it larger at a later stage?

That is precisely what we have done in this case. We have acquired the land, and the road will be widened at a later date. But I have made it quite plain that the further widening will not take place for a great many years to come.

35.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why road A1, between Wansford and Stibbington, is being widened to 30 feet; and whether the work being undertaken is to include the provision of dual carriageways in conformity with his policy for this road.

My intention is that eventually dual carriageways shall be provided on A1 between Wansford Bridge and Stibbington School in accordance with my general policy for this road. The provision of dual carriageways will, however, mean the construction of a new bridge over the River Nene, which cannot be fitted into the programme for some time and the present improvement is intended to give relief in the meantime.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the words "eventually" or "some time" are very indefinite, and can he not give any idea at all as to when dual carriageways are likely to be provided in accordance with his undertaking?

What I realise is that they will be provided as soon as the bridge can be built, and I will fit the bridge into my programme as soon as I possibly can. Further than that, I cannot go.

Can the Minister say that he prefers a policy of providing dual carriageways wherever practicable rather than widening existing roads?

I have clearly said that the policy for the Great North Road is to "dual" it from London to Newcastle.

In view of the great interest now being taken up and down the country in regard to highway development, will the Minister tell the House the ratio of money received into his Department from motor taxation and petrol taxation?

Level Crossing, Dagenham (Bridge)

37.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress has been made with the proposal to replace the level crossing on Chequers Lane, Dagenham, by a bridge over the railway.

The road over this level crossing and to the south of it in the Dock Estate is not a public highway, and I am not aware that any scheme has been prepared to replace the crossing by a bridge.

Severn Bridge

40.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when he intends to authorise construction of the Severn Bridge.

20.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is now in a position to give the promised reply to the joint local authority deputation relating to the Severn bridge; and if he will state the nature of the reply.

I have not yet completed my consideration of this matter, but I hope soon to be able to write to the chairman of the conference of local authorities about it.

Can the Minister say whether it is likely that the scheme for the construction of the bridge will be authorised after the Forth Bridge has been dealt with, which we understand has received priority? Can he say whether it is likely that it will come on after that?

No, I am afraid I cannot give any undertakings until I have replied to the very large and expert deputation which discussed this with me.

Shipping

Overloading

13.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether his attention has been drawn to the report of the recent case of St. John Shipping Corporation v. Joseph Rank Limited; and if he will consider amending the law in order to increase the maximum amount of fine which may be imposed in cases of overloading a ship.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation
(Mr. John Profumo)

Yes, Sir, and I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer given to the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) on 1st November, when my right hon. Friend said that he was sympathetic to this suggestion and had noted it for amending legislation on a suitable occasion.

Will the hon. Gentleman go a little further than merely noting it for legislation? Is not he prepared to say that he will introduce legislation so that in future cases crime will not pay as it has in this instance?

I do not think I can go any further than did my right hon. Friend. It might be well if I added that our statistics show that for the past four and a half years only 4 per cent. of the ships which have been inspected in British ports have been found to be overloaded.

Transport

Private Cars, Central London

18.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will take steps to secure the banning of the use of private cars in central London during the period of petrol shortage and use the opportunity to make a careful survey of any increased economy and efficiency in the use of public and commercial transport.

I do not think that the ban suggested by the hon. Member is either practicable or desirable, especially now that the necessary saving in petrol is to be achieved by rationing.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not clever in any circumstances to use oil in 130 horsepower buses to achieve a rate of progress about equal to that of the old horse buses? Is he further aware that he will never get a better opportunity than this, and never get more good will from the public, in carrying out a test, which he will have to organise at some time or other, to try to find out if there is a way of removing this delay in public transport and frustration to goods vehicles in the centre of London?

No, I do not agree, because, as I have said before in this House when we have debated this matter. I do not believe that putting a complete ban on the use of private cars in central London is the right way of meeting traffic congestion.

Would not this be the worst moment to ban private cars in central London, when only essential motorists will be able to get into it?

Has not the right hon. Gentleman, in reply to previous Questions which I have put to him in this House, said that unless the situation does improve he may be compelled to consider some ban or restriction on private cars in central London?

Yes, but that was to be after we had tried several other things and I had received the advice of the London Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee on parking in London.

Vehicles (Testing)

25.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress has been made in organising the compulsory testing of road vehicles.

Much work has gone into the preparation of detailed proposals for the testing of vehicles as envisaged by Sections 1 and 2 of the Road Traffic Act, 1956. I hope to circulate an outline of these proposals in the near future to the organisations representing local authorities and other interested bodies, in order to prepare the way for full discussion.

I am glad to hear that. May I take it that Members will be able to see these draft proposals in some form or other?

Motor Cyclists (Crash Helmets)

38.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what steps are taken to see that crash helmets for motor cyclists come up to a minimum safety standard.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer my right hon. Friend gave on 31st October to my hon. Friend, the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray).

Traffic Congestion (Staggered Working Hours)

39.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when he expects to receive the report of the committee appointed to inquire into the staggering of working hours to relieve traffic congestion.

The appointment of the committee has been delayed, because I wanted to give it the widest possible scope. I hope to announce its composition very shortly. As the hon Member will have gathered from my statement on 25th July, the functions of the new committee will be of a continuing nature, although they will report progress to me from time to time.

In the meantime, and without waiting for this committee to be appointed, then to meet and to publish its report, will the Minister take action? Does he appreciate that, in view of petrol rationing, public transport will have a far greater load, and that transport conditions at peak hours are bound to deteriorate? Will he take steps on his own to see whether some extension of the staggering of hours of work cannot be embarked upon at once?

I am very glad that the hon. Member has raised that point. It is absolutely necessary, if we are to have tolerable conditions when rationing is introduced, that all people who can should spread their travelling times as much as they possibly can. I would just correct one point; this committee's first duty will not be to prepare some long-dated report, but to advise me on that particular problem at once.

Civil Aviation

Scottish Airports (Passenger Traffic)

19.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many passengers have been carried to and from Scottish airports during the present year to the most convenient date; and what percentage increase or decrease has been recorded compared with the same period last year.

During the eight months period, January—August, 1956, the number of passengers carried to and from aerodromes in Scotland was 642,000, including those in transit. This is an increase of 21 per cent. over the number for the corresponding period of 1955.

Is the Joint Parliamentary Secretary aware that this magnificent progress in Scottish air services underlines the extremely anomalous position in the Dundee area, which is now the only major centre of population in Scotland without any civil air service at all?

I do agree that it has been magnificent progress, but I do not really think the conclusion can be drawn from what I have said that there is necessarily enough traffic offering in Dundee to warrant a service, and I must agree with what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Air said in reply to an earlier Question.

Could my hon. Friend say what proportion of these passengers have been carried to and from the international airport at Prestwick?

In view of the development of Festival traffic, is there a prospect of getting better landing aids at Edinburgh, and at other airports of lesser standing than Prestwick?

That is, if I may say so, a good comment. My right hon. Friend is always trying to do his best to improve all the technical aids anywhere.

Will my hon. Friend remember the question of traffic from Perth as well as Dundee?

I rather gathered that what the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) asked was in consort with my hon. and gallant Friend's views, too.

Prestwick Airport (Runways)

26.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what plans he has under consideration for lengthening the runways at Prestwick Airport.

I am afraid that I cannot yet add anything to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby) on 24th October.

In view of the promise which the Government gave that Prestwick Airport would be maintained as a first-class international airport, and in view of the statement made by the President of Trans-Canada Airlines that the runways at Prestwick will soon be inadequate for modern aircraft and will require lengthening and strengthening, will my hon. Friend initiate or at least examine how soon he can initiate works to bring the runways up to date?

As I am sure my hon. Friend knows, the present length of the runways at Prestwick is perfectly capable of taking all existing types of modern airliners.

With regard to the new giant jets, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has set up a panel of experts to try to find out what the requirements will be. Until we get those requirements, and indeed the requirements of the airlines themselves, I am afraid my right hon. Friend can go no further than I have just gone.

Could not the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that there will be no going back on the decisions of all Governments up till now that Prestwick is to be kept in the front line of international airports? Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that there is great perturbation in Scotland lest there may be a tendency to let this mater slide? If we could have an assurance that Prestwick is going to be kept up to standard, that would allay a great deal of the doubts.

I hope that what I have said will allay any suspicions there may be in Scotland. I reiterate that Prestwick is still the second international airport in the United Kingdom.

Accident, London Airport (Report)

36.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether the separate inquiry he is conducting into the Vulcan bomber accident at London Airport on 1st October will be made public.

The report of the investigation that I am having made may well be highly technical. I will, however, as soon as I am in a position to do so, make a full statement to the House on its findings. I do not expect my investigator to be able to report for another two or three weeks, as I am most anxious that a comprehensive technical investigation should be made into all the civil aspects of this accident.

May I ask the Minister to hurry the report as much as possible? There is great concern amongst the residential population around London Airport and, in addition, it is only fair to the staff at London Airport that the report be properly published.

I quite accept that, but, in answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, it is because this matter really must be sifted to the bottom in the interests of everybody that I must not ask Dr. Touch to do other than the most thorough job possible.

Having regard to the fact that this concern, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) so rightly speaks, was especially felt by his own officers employed at London Airport, may I ask whether every opportunity is being given to them, if they so require, to be professionally represented at the inquiry? Further, in view of the fact that there would appear to be some unfortunate conflict of interest between the Minister's Department and the Air Ministry, would he not say that here is a special case for the publication of the full report?

I understand that full opportunity is being given as to representation. What I said was that when I receive Dr. Touch's report I will consider what is the best way to communicate it to the House.

Railways

Liverpool Overhead Railway

33.

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, in view of the need to restrict the use of petrol and oil, what consultation he has had with the Liverpool Overhead Railway Company regarding the need to keep the railway running after 30th December, 1956, in the national interest.

None, Sir. As the hon. Lady knows, I have always regarded the question of the possible continuance of this railway as a local issue and, looking at it again, as I promised, in the light of the need for economy in petrol and oil, I still think that any further consideration of the position must be left to the local interests.

Is not the Minister aware that the conferences which were held with the local authorities proved that the local authorities could not deal with the situation? In view of the fact that buses will have to be put on the road almost immediately this railway closes, or before the railway closes on 30th December, and that this will very greatly increase the amount of petrol and oil being used, can something not be done by his Department in the national interest to deal with the situation in some similar way as it dealt with it during the war?

Yes, but as the hon. Lady will agree, my Ministry did bring all the parties together in an attempt to get an agreed solution of what is a very difficult but a local problem. If we were asked to help again, I do not say we should not do so; but the initiative must come from the local authority, not from me.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is the only matter on which I am ever likely to be in agreement with the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool? Perhaps if nothing else will soften his heart in this matter, that fact will. Will he not therefore please look at the matter again?

Does the Minister not agree that there is an overwhelming case for keeping this railway open in view of the present emergency as regards petrol and oil supplies? Does he not agree that this is, as has been said, no longer a local issue but a national issue, and will he not take the initiative in calling a conference with those concerned to see whether it could be kept open temporarily?

No. If there is any demand locally for my Ministry to help, it is clearly known that it will help as it did before; but further than that I do not think I should go.

Ministry Of Defence

Casualties, Port Said

41.

asked the Minister of Defence what is his approximate estimate of the number of Egyptian service casualties and civilian casualties, men, women and children resulting from the recent operations in Egypt; and what steps he took to assure himself that Egyptian hospitals had water, light and equipment to deal adequately with the wounded.

52.

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a further statement on the amount of damage to civilian life and property in Port Said during the recent military operations there.

53.

asked the Minister of Defence if it is now possible to estimate accurately the number of Egyptian casualties, civilian and service, in the Port Said area, and elsewhere in Egypt, resulting from Anglo-French operations.

As regards Egyptian casualties and military casualties in Port Said, I have received no information which leads; me to modify the estimate of 100 killed and 540 wounded which I gave to the House last Wednesday. I have no information about casualties in other parts of Egypt.

Throughout the operations every care was taken to keep danger to life and property to the minimum. In Port Said the damage to the town as a whole is not severe, but during the seaborne landings, which were made necessary by the Egyptian repudiation of the cease-fire which had been agreed on the previous evening, some damage was caused to buildings along the sea front. After the landings there was some house-to-house fighting in which a number of buildings used as strong points were damaged and the Arab quarter was partially destroyed.

Thanks to the efforts of the allied engineers public services in the town were quickly restarted.

Both main hospitals in Port Said remained open. A generator was supplied to the civil hospital to ensure continuity of lighting during blackouts. Essential drugs and food were supplied by the Army Medical Service.

Will the right hon. Gentleman reply categorically: is it a fact that the intensive bombing cut off the water and light to the General Hospital, Cairo, as a consequence of which the surgeons were unable to operate efficiently on the injured? Furthermore, is it a fact that the mortality rate in this hospital was very high and the corpses had to be piled in sheds and even on the ground outside the hospital?

I must tell the right hon. Lady that I have no information on this concerning inside Egypt, but I can also tell her that the most lurid stories have come out of Egypt which have been proved, so far as we have been able to check them in Port Said, to be gross exaggerations. It was stated by the Egyptians that there were 12,000 casualties in Port Said, of which a large proportion had been caused by machine-gun fire from helicopters. That was pure invention and entirely at variance with any of the facts which we know in Port Said. Concerning elsewhere in Egypt, I can only say that, judging by the propaganda put out about Port Said, it is highly likely that such allegations were untrue.

I asked the Minister to reply categorically. Can he say that he has no information about the General Hospital, to which a large number of wounded were taken?

We have no official representative in Cairo who could go and examine, but there are United Nations observers there. As far as I know, no report or representation to the United Nations to that effect has been made by an observer.

Is the Minister aware that this is a matter which is doing harm to Britain's name abroad and that we are anxious to clear it up? Is he aware that the Prime Minister of India has talked about several thousand casualties in Port Said, that a B.B.C. correspondent has broadcast that he has seen more than 100 dead in Port Said and that several reputable American correspondents, who have great influence throughout America, have talked about seeing a very large number of casualties in Port Said? Can the right hon. Gentleman say categorically that these stories are untrue?

As far as Port Said is concerned, I reaffirm what I have stated. The report to me of these casualties has been strictly in accordance with the facts, and the information at my disposal is that they are limited to 100 dead and 540 wounded. The British have a great reputation for truth in these matters. [Interruption.] I would say that throughout the last war the B.B.C. had an immense reputation for stating facts.

The allegations of these heavy casualties in Port Said I can categorically deny.

What is the source of the right hon. Gentleman's information? [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the hon. Member's? "] Can he explain why there is this great discrepancy between his estimate and the estimate of many responsible neutral observers? Will he tell us where he gets his figures from?

My figures are entirely from the administration of Port Said, which is in the hands of our forces. It is their job to deal with all matters military and civilian in the town. They send to us accurate reports of casualties, both of our own forces and of the Egyptians, so far as they know them. I rely on their facts, and I am absolutely certain that there has been a calculated dissemination of distorted facts and propaganda in this matter.

Can my right hon. Friend confirm or deny the report that Nasser breached the Sweet Water Canal, which supplies Port Said with water? If it is true, does it not show—

Arising out of the question by my right hon. Friend concerning the Cairo Hospital, cannot the Minister assure us that there was no bombing anywhere near the water supply of that hospital which would disconnect it? Is not that really the question?

We have a very careful analysis of our bombing and where the bombs fell. As the water supply—I am no expert in this—goes along the whole of the route from its source to the hospital, I cannot give any categorical assurance. Naturally, we have no official observers in Egypt. There are United Nations observers, and I have noticed that very little has been forwarded to the United Nations which substantiates the very wild claims which have been made of atrocities.

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that any British casualties that occurred in this incident were taken to hospital, where there was, in fact, water, light and necessary equipment? Will be express some concern from this side of the House for the survival and good treatment of British casualties?

I am satisfied that the medical arrangements which were made at Port Said were adequate and functioned well during the time. Not only that, but in addition to looking after British casualties, which were, I am glad to say, light, there were sufficient facilities to deal promptly and effectively under difficult circumstances with the Egyptian casualties as well.

Later

On a point of order. I tried to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, while Private Members' Bills were being presented, and hoped that my voice might have reached you. I rise to ask your advice and guidance.

As you know, on several occasions the Government have stated that there have not been many casualties in Egypt. Even as recently as this afternoon the Minister of Defence said that the casualties and destruction in Port Said were negligible. In view of that, is it in order for my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) to use the facilities of the House to circulate Press photographs showing terrible death and destruction in Port Said?

I have not seen the photographs of which the hon. Member complains, and I would not like to say anything about them until I have seen them. There are photographs and photographs but, prima facie, I see nothing whatsoever wrong in it or anything in which I could interfere.

I am obliged to you for that, Mr. Speaker, because it absolves me from unparliamentary conduct in circulating these photographs. But as these photographs are of more than passing interest to Members of Parliament, would you give permission for them to be exhibited in the Library?

I am willing always to comply with what is desired if I can, but would the right hon. Gentleman allow me an opportunity to consider the matter? I know nothing about the photographs. I should like to arrive at an informed opinion on the matter without making a snap decision which might be wrong.

Egypt (Captured Equipment)

42.

asked the Minister of Defence what arms and munitions were captured from the Egyptians during the recent armed conflict with Egypt, and to what extent this military equipment was manufactured in Czechoslovakia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Britain, respectively.

I have received a statement giving the latest count of equipment captured by the Allied Forces. As it is very detailed, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the Minister confirm or deny that amongst those arms and munitions which have been captured—we all regret and deplore that the Russians and Czechs have supplied them—were some which Britain has been supplying, and that some of these arms that were used against our boys were supplied by this Government up to a week or two before the Eden war commenced?

On a point of order. I put a supplementary question to the Minister and he did not refuse to answer it but referred to another Question. Surely, if I put a supplementary question and it is in order, the Minister should not refer to a later Question, knowing that it will not come up.

Whilst I appreciate what the Minister says about publishing the detailed figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT, can he tell the House whether the summation of those figures reveals a substantial increase in the supply of arms from Russia to Egypt beyond that which Her Majesty's Government had already ascertained and knew about?

The amount of arms captured does not give an overall picture of the total in Egypt, but I would say that the proportion of arms captured substantiates and, indeed, underlines our previous estimates of the supply of Russian equipment.

EquipmentTotalCzechU.S.S.R.U.K.
SU 100 (S.P. guns)33
Wireless sets for above33
100 mm. Ammunition, H.E340340
Fuses for above500500
100 mm. Ammunition, A.P.B.C200200
32-Barrel 131 mm. Rocket Launcher33
131 mm. Rockets300300
100 mm. A/Tk. Rocket Launcher Tarasnice22
100 mm. Tarasnice Rockets9090
Fuses for above760760
6-pdr. guns44
6-pdr. Ammunition, H.E.5050
6-pdr. Ammunition, A.P.B.C.7070
3·7 inch guns22
3·7 inch ammunition, A.P.500500
A.P. Mines, POM Z-2500500
A.P. Hand Grenades66
3 in. Mortar Bombs200200
7·62 mm. L.M.G.52250
7·62mm. S.L. Rifle52020500
7·62 mm. Ammunition7,0007,000
7·92 mm. Machine carbine1010
7·92 mm. Rifle2525
7·92 mm. ammunition40,00040,000
A/Tk. Magnetic mines4040
·303 Lee Enfield420420
·303 Ammunition40,00040,000
Greener Mk. III2020
9 mm. Ammunition168,000168,000
Eley buckshot500500
Praga G.S. 10 ton vehicles33
Bedford 3 ton vehicles2020
Fordson 3 ton vehicles2020
Thorneycroft 3 ton diesel33
Austin PU1212
Bren carriers22
Tecalemit Pressure Greasing Plant, Portable11

In addition the following equipment of other nationalities was captured:—

83 mm. Blindicede Rocket Launcher (Belgian)10
83 mm. Blindicede Rockets100
7·92 mm. FN L.M.G (Belgian)10
30 mm. Hispano Suiza Cannon (Spanish)8
81 mm. Ecia Mortars (Spanish)3
Bombs for above (Spanish)370
A.P Grenades (Red Devil) (Italian)80
7·9 mm. M 49 Ball (Yugoslav)1,800
·303 Rifles (Citadel) (Egyptian)36
Rifles (unidentified)50
57 mm. A.P.C.B.C (unidentified)140
Willys vehicles (American)30
Breakdown Lorry, 10 ton1

by British forces? If so, will representatives of the right hon. Gentleman's Department or of the Service Departments have an opportunity of inspecting them?

Yes, Sir, we have captured both Russian and Czech equipment. We are inspecting them and we may bring some back to this country.

Following is the statement:

The following is the latest count of Egyptian equipment captured by the Allied Forces, analysed into countries of origin.

Conscientious Objectors

43.

asked the Minister of Defence what opportunities are provided for reservists or men in the Forces to claim conscientious objection to continued service in the Forces.

As the answer to this Question is complicated and long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask whether it is not the case that the appellate tribunal which acts in these instances has given decisions that conscientious objection need not necessarily be pacifist applying to all wars, but can be to a particular war if a sense of right and wrong is present? [HON. MEMBERS: "They will not understand that."] That is a decision of the appellate tribunal and not mine. If that is the case, is it not desirable that this should be drawn to the attention of reservists so that they may not have to absent themselves and act in other ways which are troublesome to the War Office?

I should like notice of the first question which the hon. Gentleman raises, because this is a difficult matter which wants very careful handling, but I am at one with him in this, that I think it is important that all men who have such beliefs should be very well aware of the situation and the facts relating to appeals to the tribunals.

Will my right hon. Friend be particularly careful in examining the claims of those whose consciences do not trouble them in this way until after a period of service in the Forces?

Following is the Answer:

A National Service man who before being called up has failed to satisfy a tribunal that he has sincere conscientious objections to service in the Armed Forces has a right to appear before a tribunal if he is sentenced to not less than three months' imprisonment or detention for an offence committed on grounds of conscience. In practice this right is extended, at the discretion of the Service Departments, to other Service men who develop conscientious objections to continuing their full-time or Reserve service.
National Service men who had completed their normal period of service in the Reserve but who had their liability to recall extended by the 1954 Act, and also former Class Z and Class G reservists, are entitled to appear before a tribunal immediately on recall without having first served a sentence.
Apprentices and boys who develop conscientious objections on reaching the age of 18 are entitled to apply for discharge on these grounds.

University Building Projects (Grants)

With permission, Sir, I should like to make a statement on the Government's plans to meet the greatly increased demand for university education which will arise during the next decade, and the acknowledged national need for more university-trained scientists and technologists.

The universities have already made proposals to the University Grants Committee which, taken together, would increase the number of students from 84,000 in the academic year 1955–56 to 106,000 by the mid-1960s. Of this increase, it is expected that about two-thirds would study science or technology.

This increase could not be met without building much new accommodation of all types. The Government are convinced that this is a sound long-term investment, and, accordingly, my right hon. Friend has given authority for university building projects up to the value of £10·4 million to be started in 1957, £12 million in 1958 and a further £12 million in 1959, over and above the large sums required for the expansion of Imperial College.

These amounts are instalments of what will be needed over a longer term, and they compare with starts of £4·8 million for the current year, which means that the present rate of starts is to be more than doubled.

But, large though this increase is, the Government believe that the universities should be encouraged to expand even more. The University Grants Committee has advised us that a larger expansion would be desirable if resources can be made available. It would like to invite the universities to consider still further expansion to meet national needs. The Government are giving further thought to this in consultation with the Committee.

It is certainly our intention to ensure that the universities and the technical colleges will, together, be able to produce at least the number of qualified scientists and engineers which the Committee of Scientific Manpower recently estimated to be needed over the period ten to fifteen years hence.

I should like to put three questions to the right hon. Gentleman, but may I say, first, that I am sure we are all glad to hear that this increased provision is to be made for university building; glad, too, that the statement the right hon. Gentleman has made recognises that the sums to be provided in the next three years can be only a beginning to the solution of this problem?

The three questions I should like to put to him are these. First, can we be assured that in the increased building which is to be provided, proper provision will be made for facilities for the social life of a university which, as was recognised during the debates on technical education, is an important part of a liberal education? Secondly, can we be sure that, with the increased number of students and the increased provision of buildings, the provision of university staff will keep in step with these arrangements? Thirdly, in view of this provision of increased places at universities, will it not be all the more important to secure a wise selection of students and to make sure that suitable persons are not prevented from going to a university by lack of means? As this is bound up with the policy of some local education authorities in the matter of awards, will the right hon. Gentleman and the Minister of Education bear that in mind?

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his approach. He will appreciate that my statement opens up large matters which, no doubt, should be further discussed on future occasions.

In answer to his questions, I would say, first, that the building plans certainly include provision for facilities for social life for the increased number of students in the universities. Secondly, we have not forgotten that the increased numbers of students and the increased facilities will require increases in staff. Thirdly, it is the Government's desire that all those boys and girls who have the mental and general abilities to profit by a university education shall get that opportunity. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that, of course, during this period we shall be securing the benefit of the bulge passing out of the schools.

Is this a United Kingdom programme? If so, will the money be spread over the whole of the United Kingdom and not concentrated only on, say, Oxford, Cambridge and London? Will the expenditure be co-ordinated with the local authorities and with what they want to do for students? Many boys and girls are by-passing this type of education. Their ability to profit by it is not being developed to the full extent because of some of the considerations my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) has mentioned. Will these provisions be made in conjunction with the Minister of Education and the appropriate Minister for Scotland so that those boys and girls may be enabled to carry on their education at universities? The provision of all this money will be futile unless we can get the students.

It is a United Kingdom programme. As I think the right hon. Gentleman realises, the University Grants Committee is a United Kingdom body on which Scotland is represented. We are aware that there are many who leave the schools prematurely at present and who might benefit by a university education, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in close touch with the Minister of Education, and any other Ministers who may be concerned, so that we can so arrange our affairs that the very best use is made of the abilities of boys and girls.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the University of Wales will benefit under this programme?

I said that the University Grants Committee is a United Kingdom body. I am quite sure that it will bear in mind the needs of the Principality.

If a university education is the good, long-term capital investment we all believe it to be, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the universities are fed by the secondary schools, and convey to the Minister of Education the need for co-operating with the Chancellor in the policy of putting back the building of the secondary schools he stopped this year?

This is a co-ordinated policy. I do not think that the House would wish me to make a comprehensive statement on all educational intentions. I hope the hon. Gentleman will accept my statement that it is the desire of the Government that all boys and girls who are worthy of a university education shall receive it.

Does the Treasury realise that it is also important to produce more teachers, particularly for the primary level? Is the right hon. Gentleman considering continuing, in this programme, the expansion of teacher training colleges, which, I gather, have been curtailed?

Private Members' Bills

Advertisements (Hire-Purchase)

Bill to make provision as to the information to be included in advertisements displayed or issued in connection with hire-purchase or credit sale; and for purposes connected with the matter aforesaid, presented by Lieut.-Colonel Schofield; supported by Mr. Glenvil Hall, Mr. Gresham Cooke, Sir John Barlow, Mr. Fort, Sir William Steward, Mr. Royle, Mr. McKibbin, Mr. Bidgood, Mr. Harold Steward, and Sir Robert Cary; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st February, and to be printed. [Bill 12.]

Northern Ireland (Compensation For Compulsory Purchase)

Bill to enable the Parliament of Northern Ireland to make, in relation to land in Northern Ireland, provision for purposes similar to those of Section fifty-three of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, presented by Mr. Currie; supported by Mr. Armstrong, Sir David Campbell, Mr. Chichester-Clark, Mr. Knox Cunningham, Mr. Montgomery Hyde, Lieut.-Colonel Grosvenor, Mr. McKibbin, Mrs. McLaughlin, Mr. Phelim O'Neill, Captain Orr, and Sir Victor Raikes; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 7th December, and to be printed. [Bill 13.]

Agricultural Marketing

Bill to amend the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Acts, 1931 to 1949, as to the schemes which may be submitted and approved thereunder; and for purposes connected therewith, presented by Mr. Baldwin; supported by Major Legge-Bourke, Mr. Hurd, Mr. James Lindsay, Mr. Gibson-Watt, Commander Agnew, Commander Maitland, Mrs. Evelyn Emmet, Wing Commander Grant-Ferris, Captain Duncan, Mr. A. B. C. Harrison, and Sir Alfred Bossom; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 15th February, and to be printed. [Bill 14.]

Maintenance Orders (Attachment Of Income)

Bill to provide for the attachment of sums payable to a person by way of wages, salary or other earnings or by way of pension for the purpose of enforcing certain court orders requiring payments by that person to some other person; and for purposes connected with the matter aforesaid, presented by Miss Vickers; supported by Mrs. Evelyn Emmet, Mr. Simon, Wing Commander Bullus, Mr. Russell, Mr. Geoffrey Wilson, Mr. Vaughan-Morgan, Dr. King, Mr. Parker, Mrs. Lena Jeger, Mrs. Corbet, and Mr. McLeavy; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st March, and to be printed. [Bill 15.]

Parish Councils (Miscellaneous Provisions)

Bill to make further provision as to the constitution of parish councils, and as to the powers of parish councils and parish meetings, in rural parishes in England and Wales, presented by Wing Commander Bullus; supported by Mr. Russell. Mr. Fort, Mr. Arthur Lewis, Mr. George Jeger, Sir Alfred Bossom, Mr. Farey-Jones, Mr. William Taylor, Mr. Whitelaw, Mr. Edelman, Mr. Snow, and Sir Lancelot Joynson-Hicks; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 15th March, and to be printed. [Bill 16.]

Obscene Publications

Bill to amend and consolidate the laws relating to obscene publications, presented by Viscount Lambton; supported by Mr. Angus Maude, Mr. Roy Jenkins, Mr. Fort, Mr. Nigel Nicolson, Mr. Kenneth Robinson, Mr. Maurice Macmillan, Sir Edward Boyle, Sir Victor Raikes, and Sir Jocelyn Lucas; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 29th March, and to be printed. [Bill 17.]

New Streets Act, 1951 (Amendment)

Bill to amend the New Streets Act, 1951, presented by Mr. Maddan; supported by Mr. Currie, Mr. Woollam, Major Patrick Wall, Mr. du Cann, Captain Corfield, and Mr. Body; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 7th December, and to be printed. [Bill 18.]

Death Penalty (Abolition)

Bill to abolish or for a period suspend the passing and execution of the death sentence on conviction of murder and to substitute an alternative penalty therefor, presented by Miss Bacon; supported by Mr. Bevan, Mr. Ede, Sir Frank Soskice, Dr. Summerskill, Mr. Sydney Silverman, Mr. Grimond, Mr. Montgomery Hyde. Miss Herbison, Sir Beverley Baxter, Mr. Wade, and Mr. John Paton; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st February, and to be printed. [Bill 19.]

Animal Boarding Establishments

Bill to regulate the keeping of boarding establishments for animals; and for purposes connected therewith, presented by Mr. Ridsdale; supported by Mr. Russell, Wing Commander Bullus, Mr. Anthony Greenwood, Mr. Burden, Mr. Hastings, Mr. John Eden, Mr. A. B. C. Harrison, Brigadier Terence Clarke, Mrs. Evelyn Emmet, Mr. Douglas Marshall, and Mr. John Hall; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 15th February, and to be printed. [Bill 20.]

National Health Service (Amendment)

Bill to empower local health authorities to make available, for reward, ambulance services provided by them in pursuance of the National Health Service Act, 1946; presented by Sir F. Markham; supported by Mr. McLeavy, Mr. Frederick Bennett, Mr. Baldwin, and Mr. Sparks; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st March, and to be printed. [Bill 21.]

North Of Scotland Development Corporation

Bill to establish a corporation for the development of Northern Scotland; and for purposes connected therewith, presented by Sir D. Robertson; supported by Mr. Elliot, Mr. George, Mr. Grimond, Mr. Leburn, Major Sir Duncan McCallum, Mr. MacColl, Mr. Neil McLean, Mr. John MacLeod, Mr. M. K. MacMillan, Mr. Malcolm MacPherson, and Mr. John Rankin; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 15th March, and to be printed. [Bill 22.]

Registration Of Births, Deaths And Marriages (Navy, Marines And Service Civilians) (Overseas)

Bill to provide for the registration of births, deaths and marriages overseas in respect of the Navy, Marines and certain Service civilians, presented by Mr. Dudley Williams; supported by Sir Harold Roper, Mr. du Cann, Mr. Kenneth Robinson, Miss Joan Vickers, Mr. Lucas, Sir Beverley Baxter, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, Mr. Beswick, and Commander Maitland; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 29th March, and to be printed. [Bill 23.]

Public Health Officers (Deputies)

Bill to dispense with the consent of the Minister of Health to the appointment under the Local Government Act, 1933, or the London Government Act, 1939, of deputies of medical officers of health and deputies of public health inspectors, presented by Mr. Vaughan Morgan; supported by Mrs. Hill, Mr. Frederick Bennett, Mr. Burden, Mr. Kimball, Mr. Atkins, Mr. Tiley, Mr. Bidgood, Mr. Fort, Mr. Speir, Mr. A. B. C. Harrison, and Mr. Vane; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 7th December, and to be printed. [Bill 24.]

Maintenance Agreements

Bill to make provision with respect to the validity and alteration by the court of financial arrangements in connection with agreements between the parties to a marriage, whether made during the continuance or after the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, for the purposes of those parties living separately; and for purposes connected therewith, presented by Mr. Keegan; supported by Captain Corfield, Mr. Green, Brigadier Terence Clarke, and Mr. Pott; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st February, and to be printed. [Bill 25.]

Legitimation (Re-Registration Of Birth)

Bill to extend the operation of section fourteen and paragraph ( d) of section thirty-six of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1953, and of the schedule to the Legitimacy Act, 1926; and for purposes connected with that matter, presented by Mr. Gibson-Watt; supported by Mr. Whitelaw, Mr. Vane, Mr. Tiley, Mr. Cronin, Mr. Watkins, Mr. Freeth, Mr. Gower, and Mr. John Howard; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st March, and to be printed. [Bill 26.]

Local Government (Promotion Of Bills)

Bill to repeal certain enactments relating to the promotion of Bills by certain local authorities, presented by Mr. W. R. A. Hudson; supported by Wing Commander Bullus, Mr. Robert Jenkins, Sir Victor Raikes, Mr. William Taylor, Mr. Kenneth Thompson, and Mr. Anthony Greenwood; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 15th February, and to be printed. [Bill 27.]

Representation Of The People (Amendment)

Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1949, by assimilating the limitation on election expenses for candidates at parliamentary elections in constituencies in Northern Ireland to the limitation on those expenses for candidates at such elections in constituencies in Great Britain, presented by Sir D. Campbell; supported by Mr. McKibbin, Mrs. McLaughlin, Mr. Montgomery Hyde, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Chichester-Clark, Mr. Knox Cunningham, Mr. Currie, Lieut.-Colonel Grosvenor, Sir Thomas Moore, Captain Orr, and Mr. Phelim O'Neill; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 15th March, and to be printed. [Bill 28.]

Racial Discrimination

Bill to make illegal discrimination to the detriment of any person on the grounds of colour, race and religion in the United Kingdom, presented by Mr. Brockway; supported by Mr. Sorensen, Mr. Leslie Hale, Mr. Wedgwood Benn, Mr. Orbach, Miss Jennie Lee, Mr. Ian Mikardo, Mrs. Castle, Mr. Janner, Sir Leslie Plummer, Mr. Julius Silverman, and Mr. Frank Allaun; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 29th March, and to be printed. [Bill 30.]

Litter

Bill to make provision for the abatement of litter; to prescribe penalties for the deposit of litter; and for matters; connected with the purposes aforesard, presented by Mr. Speir; supported by Mr. Hurd, Mr. John Hill, Mrs. Eirene White, Mr. Wade., Lieut.-Commander Maydon, Mr. Michael Stewart, Mr. Vaughan-Morgan, Mr. J. T. Price, Mr. Graeme Finlay, Mr. Fort, and Mr. Whitelaw; read the First time; to be read a Second time upon Friday, 1st March, and to be printed. [Bill 31.]

Orders Of The Day

Rent Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

3.47 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government
(Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The achievement of this country in housing since the war has been, by any standard, a most remarkable one. In new houses alone, between 2½ million and 2¾ million have been constructed in Great Britain. It is a record which bears comparison with that of any other European country. It is a record in which the nation as a whole and not one party only can take pride. But, of course, it is not the mere number of houses built which matters so much as the ratio between the supply and the demand, between the number of families and the number of houses or homes which there are to accommodate them.

As early as 1949, in introducing the Housing Act of that year, the then Minister of Health, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was able to point out that the number of houses per head of the population was then already higher than before the war and that that ratio was constantly improving. Since that time, over 1½ million net additional homes have been provided, so that the ratio today must be very much more favourable than it was then.

The census of 1951 provided a firm basis upon which could be founded an estimate of need and the availability of homes to meet it. A study made by P.E.P. of the results of that census came to a conclusion about the ratio between the supply and demand for homes at the end of 1954. If I may remind the House of that conclusion, the calculation was as follows:
"Rough estimates…of the position at the end of 1954…suggest that the need for additional dwellings had fallen, in England and Wales, to about three-quarters of a million."
And it concluded:
"It is…clear that the demand for more houses is beginning to be met."
This estimate of an additional Three-quarters of a million houses required to bring the general demand and supply into balance over the country has, I notice, been adopted by the party opposite as a minimum, and as the basis of their calculations in their policy for housing.

Taking that admittedly rough estimate of demand as it was at the end of 1954, from then until the end of 1957, when the provisions of this Bill will be coming fully into force, we can calculate with certainty that there will be a net addition of at least three quarters of a million homes. It follows that upon an objective basis, and one which has been broadly accepted I think, we are now within sight of, and should in 12 months' time or so be level with, an equation of the overall supply and demand for homes.

Rent control as we have it is essentially an emergency measure. It is a product of the war, a product of the stresses of war, a product of the temporary derangement of the relationship between demand and supply which the war inevitably brought with it.

It is partly a product of the First World War but, for the most part, today rent control is new control, the control which was established in 1939. The majority of houses controlled today are new controlled houses, as can be verified if the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the statistics furnished in Cmnd. 17.

On this matter of demand, is it not correct to say that the vital figures are those which show the numbers of houses of different sizes in the country and the numbers of families of different sizes? One wants to compare and correlate those two columns. Will the hon. Gentleman explain why that information is not available to t