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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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Trade And Commerce

Eggs (Imports From Poland And Roumania)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if the sales of Polish eggs in Great Britain in the week be ginning 1st May were reduced to not more than 18,000 boxes, in accordance with the undertaking given to him by the Polish authorities; and if he will state the current sales of Roumanian eggs in the British market.

I understand from the Polish authorities that for technical reasons 18,900 boxes of Polish eggs were in fact sold in the shell egg market in the week beginning the 1st May. Shipments of Roumanian eggs are well under 1,000 boxes per week.

Can my right hon. Friend tell us what is the meaning of this phrase "for technical reasons"? Will he recall that only ten days ago the President of the Board of Trade gave a definite undertaking that the sales of Polish eggs would not be more than 18,000 cases? The number has now been reduced to 11,000 cases from this week onwards, but we do not want any fiddling about for technical reasons. Can my right hon. Friend say what this means?

We did not require the Poles to limit their sales to these figures, but that is what they told us they would do. They regret that they sold quantities in excess of that stated. The reason was that there was trouble over a ship which was delayed in handling cargo because of the dock strike. The Poles have told us that future sales of 11,000 cases a week will be reduced to take account of the excess of 900 boxes which were sold.

Kilwinning Industrial Estate


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the total cost of site preparation and servicing of Kilwinning industrial estate in the constituency of Central Ayrshire.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this site was prepared and serviced during the period of office of the Labour Government, which also provided the one factory which is as yet on the site? Would not it be a good thing if the Board of Trade were to follow the excellent example of Irvine Town Council, by providing suitable buildings on the rest of this industrial estate, ensuring that they are utilised in the way in which the council has utilised its buildings in the area? Would not this attract industrialists from over a wide area?

I will take note of that suggestion. The original factory is now being extended to accommodate about double the number of workers.

Cotton Goods (Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will circulate details of the importation of cotton piece goods and yarns for the first quarter of 1961 from the main exporting sources including Hong Kong; and if he will make a statement on the refusal of the Hong Kong cotton textile industry to renew the voluntary undertaking given by it to the Cotton Board on 31st December, 1958, regarding limitation on the export of cotton goods from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures of imports from the major supplying countries. My right hon. Friend has seen reports in the Press that the Hong Kong industry is not willing to renew the present undertaking when it expires in January, 1962, but, so far as he is aware, there has not yet been any direct communication between the Hong Kong industry and the Cotton Board. In the opinion of the Government it would be most regrettable if it does not prove possible to continue to deal with the problem by way of inter-industry agreement. The Government believe that an inter-industry agreement would be in the best interest of Hong Kong and Lancashire alike.

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress on the President of the Board of Trade the need for more modern organisational and marketing arrangements? Will his right hon. Friend also keep in touch with, or consult, the trade unions concerned in this vital question? In view of President Kennedy's action, has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about the forthcoming international conference between importing and exporting countries on the subject?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend maintains close touch with all representatives of the industry. I should like to see a Question on the Order Paper about President Kennedy's proposal.

The following are the figures:


Main Supplying Countries

Cotton Cloth*
India62·6million square yards
Hong Kong20·2million square yards
Spain16·3million square yards
Japan16·3million square yards
Total Imports176·4million square yards
Cotton Yarn
India3·1million lbs.
Spain2·6million lbs.
Hong Kong1·1million lbs.
Italy1·0million lbs.
Total11·8million lbs.

* These figures relate to grey cloth only. They include grey cloth for finishing and re-export. Total imports of cotton piece goods of all kinds were 224 million square yards but a complete analysis by country of source is not yet readily available.

Resale Price Maintenance (Questionnaires)


asked the President of the Board of Trade which organisations have been asked by him to distribute questionnaires on resale price maintenance to their members; and if he is satisfied that the selected bodies will provide a truly representative sample of opinions.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of those organistions whose help the Board of Trade enlisted for the purpose of circulating the official questionnaires to retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. Care was taken to impress upon all concerned the importance of ensuring that all types of interest were included. The answers returned are being scutinised with the same end also in view. I am glad to take this opportunity of thanking all those who have helped us by sending out questionnaires and by answering them.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the National Union of Towns-women's Guilds in included in the list of organisations?

The National Union of Townswomen's Guilds is not in the list. That organisation sent out a questionnaire, but we felt it necessary to point out that there was some danger that it might be thought to be an official questionnaire, and the union very readily corrected it. We are grateful to the N.U.T.G. for the interest it has shown.

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this kind of ad hoc inquiry would perhaps give misleading results? Would he consider following up the commendable initiative of the N.U.T.G. by arranging for a wider and more scientific inquiry, so that we can find out what the views of housewives really are about fixed prices?

That has been considered, but there are great difficulties in drafting questions which would get answers which would not be biased in some way or other.

Following is the statement:

Primary distribution of the Board's questionnaires to retailers was undertaken by the National Chamber of Trade, the Parliamentary Committee of the Cooperative Union, the Retail Distributors' Association and the Multiple Shops Federation. These organisations distributed the Board's questionnaires either directly or through other representative member organisations throughout the country. Distribution of questionnaires to wholesalers was effected by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce through its affiliated chambers. The Board of Trade, in consultation with the Federation of British Industries and the National Union of Manufacturers, selected manufacturers to whom questionnaires were dispatched. A number of questionnaires were also sent to individuals and firms who asked for them.

Committee On Consumer Protection


asked the President of the Board of Trade what additional questions he has asked the Committee on Consumer Protection to consider since the Committee was appointed; when he expects the Committee to report; and if he will consider asking for interim reports on the more important questions arising either from the original terms of reference or subsequent submissions.

The Answer to the first part of the Question is, "None, Sir". My right hon. Friend understands that, if the Committee's present plans are not disturbed, there is some hope that its report may be ready in the early months of next year, though it is too soon for a firm prediction. He doubts the wisdom of seeking interim reports on particular aspects of consumer protection.

Is the hon. Gentleman's reply to the first part of my Question correct? We have had statements in the House on other questions which have been submitted to the Committee for its investigation. Would he not agree that, as this Committee has been on the job now for two years, it might be helpful to it to ask it to publish interim reports, much on the same lines as the Report which it published on safety regulations?

It is not true that we have asked the Committee to investigate further questions. We have, however, from time to time sent it further evidence. In answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, the danger is, again, that we should simply hold up the inquiries if we asked the Committee to find, at the present time, answers to particular questions which we might put to it. We think it better that it should get along in accordance with its plans.

In view of the fact that the last interim Report brought out some amazing information, which resulted in some action being taken, does not the hon. Gentleman think that some "headaches" which have been sent to the Committee for consideration could be dealt with almost at once? In this way, something could be done without our having to wait for a very long time.

Most of these questions are, in some way or another, related. We think it better to allow the Committee to consider them all together.

Pekin (Trade Fair)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will seek to arrange for a British Trade Fair to be held in Pekin.

The organisation of trade fairs is primarily a matter for industry, and I am, therefore, passing on the hon. Member's suggestion to the trade bodies concerned.

While welcoming that reply, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that some of us have been employed in manufacturing large-scale electrical plant and equipment for China for many years? Is he aware that many of China's leading electrical engineers were employed and trained amongst us? There is enormous goodwill in this. Has not the time arrived when we should be doing something on the lines I have suggested?

I am sure that what the hon. Gentleman has said will be considered by the trade, to whom I am referring his proposal.

British Trade Fair, Moscow


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will assist all persons in the United Kingdom who so desire to visit the British Trade Fair in Moscow, and to assist in this respect parties or representatives of firms who have exhibits in the fair; and if, in order to promote the United Kingdom export trade, he will arrange for films to be taken of the fair.

My right hon. Friend has no reason to suppose that persons in the United Kingdom who wish to travel to Moscow to see the British Trade Fair will be unable to do so. As he told the House on the 30th March, no special facilities have been arranged to enable people to attend the fair. I understand that some films of the fair will be taken.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this fair will probably be the largest ever held in Russia, and that there is great interest among managements and workpeople in this country about it? Does not he also agree that they have taken great pride in our exhibits? Would it not be a good idea to encourage this kind of thing by such visitations as this?

Yes, Sir. It is a very pleasant proposal, and it is surely for the firms concerned to make any arrangements they wish.

Development Projects, Scotland


asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he intends taking to increase development projects by the National Research and Development Corporation in Scotland.

My right hon. Friend has already asked the Corporation to bear the needs of Scotland in mind when placing contracts. The Corporation sends the Scottish Council each week a list of the inventions which it is making available for commercial licensing.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Appendix 2 of the Report of the National Research and Development Corporation, thirty-five projects are reviewed, but that only one of them is in Scotland? Is it not disgraceful that a Government Department should finance development and research in thirty-five projects and that all but one of them should be in England when the need in Scotland is so great?

The difficulty is that the choice of firms with which to place contracts for development is liable to be restricted to a small number particularly interested in this kind of work. The choice is not wide open, nor can the Corporation itself set up firms to develop the various inventions.

According to the list, the majority of these projects are in university institutions and technical colleges. There are plenty of universities and technical colleges in Scotland, yet only one project is in Scotland—in Glasgow—and the rest are in the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London and at other universities in the South.

I am quite certain that the Corporation will take note of what the hon. Member has said. I have said that we have drawn the attention of the Corporation to the needs of Scotland in this respect.

New Factories, Durham


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications have so far been made to his Department for new factories in Durham County; how many have been granted; and what are the prospects for new factory building in 1961–62.

Since the Local Employment Act came into force, thirteen applications for new Board of Trade factories in County Durham have been received; of these eight were approved, but four were subsequently withdrawn by the applicants. Three are now being considered. The applications approved for new factories and extensions built by the Board of Trade, excluding the withdrawals, provide for 488,000 sq. ft. of space, but I cannot say how much of this building will be completed in 1961–62. If the last part of the Question refers to all new factories or extensions, whether privately financed or Government financed, there have been seventy-two applications for I.D.C.s covering 1,716,000 sq. ft. in the last twelve months.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am very grateful for that reply? Could he say whether any representations have been made about the disused Army site which is not in operation at the moment? Have any representations been made that his Department should take over that site from the War Office for use for industrial development? If not, will the hon. Gentleman make representations to his regional office to see what inquiries can be set in motion about such a development?

I should like to have notice of that question. Offhand, I should say that the Board of Trade can take over sites only if they are in development districts.

Can my hon. Friend say what all this means in terms of jobs and extra employment? Could he go out of his way to visit us in Sunderland to see a new factory which is about to be opened there in the near future?

I should be glad to do anything the hon. Member invites me to do, if at all possible. The total number of jobs in prospect in the county is 14,500.



asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the number of bankruptcies for the years 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960; and how these figures compare with 1951 to 1954.

With permission, I will circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether the figures are up or down? Has he any opinion as to the reasons for such bankruptcies?

Last year the figures were up, but I do not think that it would be safe to draw any deductions from one year alone.

Will my hon. Friend say what is the position in regard to the revision of the out-of-date law on this subject in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee which considered it and reported some years ago?

The figures are as follows:


European Economic Community


asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the changed situation concerning the Common Market, if he will institute a detailed study of the likely advantages and disadvantages to United Kingdom trade if Great Britain were to join the European Economic Community.

I am not certain what "changed situation" the hon. Member has in mind, but we have constantly under study the likely advantages and disadvantages to United Kingdom trade of various possible forms of closer economic association in Europe.

Does not the Minister of State think that it would be useful to communicate to a wider sphere, particularly the House of Commons, what some of those advantages and disadvantages are? This movement has gone on for some time now. We have had almost incomprehensible statements of an unhelpful nature from the President of the Board of Trade. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be more useful to set out in a White Paper some of the obvious advantages and some of the disadvantages there may be for us, so that we may understand the problem?

The basic facts about our trade are available from a number of publications. I shall be glad to give the hon. Member the details. As to the wider suggestion of a White Paper, I doubt whether it would have any value at present, but I will make sure that the suggestion is brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend.

Factory, Glenrothes


asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations have been made to him concerning the prospect of a factory closure in Glenrothes, Fife; and whether he will make a statement on this development.

The owner of the factory concerned has recently outlined his difficulties to the Board of Trade Office for Scotland, but my right hon. Friend has no power to give assistance in such cases as this.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that this is just the kind of case in which Board of Trade help would be beneficial, not only to the owner, but to the people employed there? Is he aware that Mr. Thomson came to see me on Sunday and that he outlined a very promising venture? All he needs is a little help from the President of the Board of Trade. Will the right hon. Gentleman urgently reconsider the matter in view of the great psychological importance of it in the new town?

I do not think that my right hon. Friend could reconsider this particular case because he has no powers as Glenrothes is not in a development district.

Companies (Solicitation Of Money Deposits)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the reasons for delay in introducing legislation to regulate the solicitation of money deposits by companies; and when he intends to introduce such legislation.

The reason is the difficulty of framing requirements, particularly as regards the contents of the accounts to be published, which will give the depositor an adequate measure of protection without being unduly burdensome or hampering to legitimate business. As regards the latter part of the Question, I regret that I am not in a position to add to previous replies on this subject.

While appreciating the difficulties and the points which my hon. Friend has made, may I ask if he is aware that legislation on this subject was first foreshadowed four and a half years ago in the Queen's Speech of 1956? Does not he think it time that we had legislation on this subject? Will he and his Department kindly look at the matter again to see if we can have legislation during this Session, as has already been promised?

We are looking at the matter all the time. The basic trouble is that there are many ways in which this control might be effected and we have to examine all of them with the greatest of care.

London Dock Strike


asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the loss caused to the export trade by the recent London dock strike.

We have lost some export trade, but my right hon. Friend can make no estimate of the amount. Nor can he estimate the damage caused by delays in deliveries to overseas customers for the second time within six months.

Is it not the case that when it is working the Port of London is an efficient port? Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps he is taking in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour to try to iron out the difficulties when a few men are obstructive and there is loss to the country as a whole?

The Rochdale Committee will be looking into all aspects of working at the docks, including management-labour relations.

Should not this strike illustrate to importers and business people the folly of concentrating so much traffic in the Port of London when they could make use of other ports in other parts of the country which have a better record of labour relations, including the South Wales ports and, above all, the Port of Barry?


Geological Survey Board (Geophysical Department)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will give details of the staff employed by the Geophysical Department of the Geological Survey Board.

Seven scientists are employed, and four more scientists are being recruited. Ancillary staff are provided as a common service to all branches of the Geological Survey and Museum.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a need to expand the department much more because we still need a proper geophysical survey of the country's resources? Will he try to recruit on a larger scale?

I fully agree with the hon. Member that we should do more than we are doing at present. There has been great difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified staff for geophysical work in face of commercial competition and the attractions of research in the universities, but, as I said in my original Answer, we are doing our best to recruit four more scientists.

Machine Tool Industry, Scotland


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science to what extent he is supporting scientific research in the machine tool industry in Scotland.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research supports the Machine Tool Industry Research Association and the Production Engineering Research Association, both of which carry out research in this field and have Scottish members. Research of direct value to the machine tool industry in Scotland is carried out at the National Engineering Laboratory, East Kilbride, and also in the National Physical Laboratory. In addition, a research grant on the mechanics of metal cutting has been made to Glasgow University.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the light engineering industry in increasingly having to look abroad, to Italy, France, Germany and the United States, for machine tools because of the shortage and lack of modern machine tools in this country? Will he and his Department take more energetic steps to see that there is more scientific research and development on machine tools, not only in Scotland, but in the United Kingdom as a whole?

I fully agree with the hon. Member that more research and development are needed in future than has been the case in the past in this industry. However, we have only recently set up the Machine Tool Industry Research Association and we have very great hopes of it.

University Research


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what is the percentage of the total national expenditure on research and development which is allocated to university research.

Expenditure on research and development at universities is incurred at their discretion and is not determined by allocation. The Advisory Council on Scientific Policy recently estimated that in 1958–59 expenditure at universities amounted to about 5 per cent. of the total national expenditure on research and development. The proportion of basic research which is done in universities is, of course, much larger than this.

Does not this figure of 5 per cent. compare very unfavourably with the amount allocated in the United States, which is about 9 per cent., and, in view of the fact that the universities are responsible for the best fundamental research as a whole, should not greater assistance be given to them?

I think that one has to be careful in talking of any of these percentages, first, because it is very difficult within a university allocation to allocate that part of a man's salary, that proportion of the cost of buildings, and to say how much is to be considered the cost of research and how much the cost of teaching. Secondly, it is a fact that basic research, which is just that type of research upon which the universities particularly specialise, costs much less than applied research and very much less than development.

Cancer Research


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, in view of the fact that progress in cancer research is limited, not by lack of finance but by the number of experienced scientists available, what plans he has for extending the provisions for post-graduate research in the life sciences.

The main bar to rapid progress is neither a lack of funds nor a shortage of experienced scientists engaged on the problem, but a relative lack of new ideas and promising leads. My noble Friend will give his full support to any encouraging new lines of study.

As regards post-graduate research financial support continues to be provided by the Medical Research Council to an increasing number of research workers in aid of an extensive programme of clinical and laboratory investigations. A list of these will be found in the Council's last report.

While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for his Answer, may I ask him whether he does not agree that if we want to have promising ideas and new methods of approach it may well be necessary to have suitable men who are capable of delivering them to us? Does not that mean that we must give more money to promising young people in this form of science?

We do, of course, continually increase year by year the amount of money we spend directly, through the Medical Research Council, upon cancer research. The figure has risen from £175,000 in 1949–50 to £650,000 in 1960–61, and I am advised by the Council that merely to devote more staff to this research would not guarantee any advance towards a solution of this problem and might well retard solutions being found to other scourges of humanity.

Would my hon. Friend fully accept the statement contained in the Question that cancel research is in no way limited for lack of funds?

Nuclear Reactors (Research)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he has now reached a decision with regard to the application from the London University Imperial College of Science and Technology for permission to build a low-power nuclear reactor.

The Government has approved in principle the provision of three reactors, which will be available to Universities and Colleges of Technology for teaching and research. One will be sited in Scotland and one in Lancashire. It is proposed to site the third in the London area. This will be available to the Imperial College as to other institutions in London. Negotiations on arrangements are continuing.

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that we are being very late in supplying these low-power nuclear reactors? Can he give the House some definite date on which they are supposed to be erected?

Yes, indeed; it is to be for the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. As regards the exact site, I should like the hon. Gentleman to put a Question on the Order Paper in order that I may be absolutely accurate.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that sites have been fixed for the reactor to be used by Liverpool and Manchester Universities and, therefore, can he state where it is to be exactly, because two years ago he was given an indication about the arrangements made for Liverpool and Manchester?

I admit that there has been considerable delay since the projects were first mooted, but this has been necessary in order that we should decide where best to locate the reactors in order that they could be put to the maximum amount of use by the various universities and the colleges of technology. We could not possibly permit, with public funds, reactors to be allocated for every single institution of higher education.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science if he will give details of research being conducted in the development of small and medium nuclear reactors.

I am advised by the Atomic Energy Authority that it is not at present developing small and medium reactors.

Is the Minister aware that only recently a factory which produces small reactors, and its research organisation, was closed down: namely, the Hawker-Siddeley nuclear power research centre at Langley? In view of the fact that the Americans now have a virtual monopoly in the export of small reactors, when are we going to do something about it?

Small reactors, and in fact medium reactors, have already been designed by commercial undertakings. There is the point of the work which the Authority ought to do. As nuclear power is very dependent on economies of scale, and as the prospects of achieving competitive nuclear power in this country within the next ten years are based on building units of large generating capacity, it is surely right that the main emphasis of the Authority's attack should be on problems relating to that. On the other hand, the Authority is undertaking research into a large number of fields of study which would be applicable both to small and large reactors.

While we recognise that the Authority must do the main research on power reactors, this specialised field is now being neglected. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have given the Minister an example of one major firm which has been doing remarkable work in this field, and yet now it has closed down and nothing is being done?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is inaccurate in his final statement, but if he cares to put a specific Question on the Order Paper, I will look into it and make certain of the degree of his inaccuracy.

Medical Research (Cardiovascular Disease)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what knowledge has been gained by the Medical Research Council about the relationship between the hardness of local water supplies and mortality from diseases of the heart and arteries.

A recent statistical inquiry undertaken by the council in the county boroughs of England and Wales has shown that the death-rate from cardiovascular disease tends to be higher in areas with soft water supplies. It is not yet known, however, whether the relationship between water softness and cardiovascular disease is one of cause and effect.

Hydrofoil Craft


asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what official United Kingdom experiments have been made with hydrofoil ships; what were the results; what were the maximum speeds obtained; and what are the plans for future development of ships with under-water wings.

No research work specifically concerned with hydrofoil craft has been carried out since the war by D.S.I.R. Some experiments have been made at the National Physical Laboratory to measure the performance characteristics of foil sections considered suitable for propeller blades. The results so obtained are of general value and can be applied to non-cavitating type foils for hydrofoil craft.

Is it not astonishing that a country with our maritime traditions has done virtually nothing in this field, in view of reports of what has been achieved in Scandinavia and, indeed, in the United States, where they are already contemplating quite large sea-going vessels travelling at very high speeds indeed?

I do not think it is fair to say that we have done nothing in this country, since the National Physical Laboratory has undertaken basic investigation into fully cavitating and ventilated hydrofoils. I would also remind my hon. Friend that this country holds the world's water speed record with Bluebird, which uses hydrofoils.

Ministry Of Works

Military Knights' Houses, Windsor


asked the Minister of Works on what basis the rents of the Military Knights' Houses at Windsor are determined for those tenants who pay rent to him; and what has been the outlay of his Department on such houses in each of the last five years.

As the Answer is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the Minister aware that this Order was founded in 1348, and that the time for looking at it again is probably now due? Is he further aware that these Knights still receive a stipend, still receive their uniforms and quarters at Windsor, plus their Army pensions, that some, in fact, do not pay rates, and that some of them sit on Windsor Borough Council—

Order. The Minister has no responsibility for who sits on Windsor Borough Council.

He is responsible, Mr. Speaker, but does not answer, because he has not answered 112 letters which I sent him a week ago.

The hon. Member knows that he can only, in order, ask Questions in respect of which there is Ministerial responsibility. I do not want to rule him out of order altogether on that, but he must confine himself within that principle.

Can the Minister say why there is nearly £2,000 in his Estimates for the repair and maintenance of these houses, which shows an increase of more than 30 per cent. on last year, whether in fact the Knights pay rates or whether the houses are subject to the Rent Act?

As I have said, I will put the whole Answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not now?"] The reason I do not give it now is to save the time of the House.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the extremely unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Following is the Answer:

Rents of four houses of the Lower Foundation are assessed by my Department in accordance with the terms of the Rent Restriction Act of 1957; the fifth house was let in 1957 at a rent based on the market value which is above the controlled limit. I receive 20 per cent. of these rents towards the cost of maintenance and repairs to the structure. The cost of such maintenance and repair of the five houses in each of the last five years has been £390, £175, £240, £230 and £250. Tenants are themselves responsible for internal decoration and repair.

Ancient Monuments And Historic Buildings (Opening Hours)


asked the Minister of Works whether he will arrange for all of his Department's buildings open to the public to be opened for the full period of summer time in April and October on both Sundays and weekdays for the same hours as during the period from May to September.

Opening hours at ancient monuments and historic buildings in my right hon. Friend's care are regularly reviewed in the light of demand. In most parts of the country the likely demand would not in my view warrant the extra cost of extending the hours of admission. There may, however, be a few cases where extension would be justified and I am considering this.

As we have extended British Summer Time in order to try to persuade tourists to come to this country, surely we should give the tourists the benefit of that extra time when they do come here?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong in thinking that the hours of opening have in the past been related to British Summer Time. They have, in fact, been related to public demand which, I think, depends much more on the season of the year—holidays, and things of that kind.

Local Government

Flood Relief Funds (Government Contributions)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT an up-to-date list of contributions which Her Majesty's Government have made to local relief funds for the alleviation of distress resulting from flood disasters in 1960; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs
(Mr. Henry Brooke)

I will, as requested, circulate the list in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Exchequer payments on account amounting to over £690,000 have been made to thirty-one local flood relief funds. Total voluntary contributions to all local flood funds exceed £210,000.

Of the £1,500,000 voted in 1960–61, £652,442 18s. 8d. was issued as grant-in-aid up to 31st March. The balance was surrendered.

Exchequer payments continue to be made as required. The money will be accounted for on the main Vote of my Department, where it will be shown as grant-in-aid. Parliament will be asked to sanction this expenditure by means of a supplementary Estimate for 1961–62 to be presented in due course. Pending the voting of supply, issues are being made from money advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that very full Answer, but is he absolutely convinced that all claims by private persons are being, or will be, met happily and satisfactorily? Can he say what the total liability on the Government in this respect will be?

I cannot yet judge what the total liability will be. I have every reason to believe that the flood relief funds are dealing absolutely fairly with all the claims made, but until the claims have all been assessed and settled, no one could put a total to them.

Following is the list of net Exchequer advances to local flood funds:

Bath Flood Relief Fund60,00000
Bathavon Flood Relief Fund2,15000
Beaminster R.D. Flood Relief Fund3,65000
Bridgwater R.D. Flood Relief Fund1,725510
Bridport B. and R.D. Flood Relief Fund2,30000
Brotherton (Osgoldcross R.D.) Flood Relief Fund4700
Calne Flood Relief Fund10000
Cottam (East Retford R.D.) Flood Relief Fund15,778710
Denby Parish Flood Relief Fund711140
Devon and Exeter Flood Relief Fund140,00000
Dulverton R.D. Flood Relief Fund3,75000
Eastleigh Flood Relief Fund35000
Frome U.D. Flood Relief Fund14420
Heanor U.D. Flood Relief Fund8951110
Hereford City and County Flood Relief Fund28,20000
Horncastle Flood Relief Fund35,60000
Keynsham Flood Relief Fund1,02000
Lewes Flood Relief Fund10,70000
Maidstone Flood Relief Fund50000
Isle of Wight Flood Relief Fund10,61800
Norton-Radstock U.D. Flood Relief Fund2,25000
Repton R.D. Flood Relief Fund1,40000
Romsey B. Flood Relief Fund18800
S.E. Derbyshire Flood Relief Fund6,072168
Shrewsbury Flood Relief Fund6,00000
Taunton B. and R.D. Flood Relief Fund5,00000
Wales and Monmouthshire Flood Relief Fund335,00000
Warmley R.D. Flood Relief Fund1,40000
Wenlock B. Flood Relief Fund40000
Williton R.D. Flood Relief Fund16,00000
Wincanton R.D. Flood Relief Fund114143

Gas Liquor (River Foliation)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will make a further statement on research into the question of gas liquor and its effect on river pollution.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Local Government
(Sir Keith Joseph)

I can add little to the information sent to the hon. Lady last October. I understand the pilot scheme at Southall is showing encouraging results, but that it is too soon to reach any firm conclusions after only a few months' trial.

But does not the Parliamentary Secretary realise how very important this is to every local authority? Is he aware that Stoke faces a dreadful situation, and that unless something is done about this gas liquor a whole sewerage system may be put out of operation, when a local authority such as ours will be faced with a colossal bill? Can he not do something more urgent about it?

The hon. Lady should be encouraged by the preliminary results, but those doing the research cannot command results; they can only go on with research.

Holiday Camp Project (Stansgate)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he is aware of the projected holiday camp development at Stansgate, Essex, and of the threat that it represents to the amenities of the Blackwater estuary; and if he will take steps to protect this hitherto relatively unspoiled coast from such development.

My right hon. Friend understands that the local planning authority has such a proposal under consideration. He has no doubt that it will have due regard to its effect upon amenity, and since it would involve a substantial departure from the development plan, that it would not grant permission without consulting him.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, when that consultation takes place, the Minister will bear in mind that besides this project there are a number of applications for caravan sites in the neighbourhood, and that there is a serious risk that this unspoiled stretch of river quite near London will be turned into just a swarming shanty-town unless he does something about it?

I must be careful, since this may come to my right hon. Friend for decision, but my right hon. Friend would not be likely to give consent for this without a public inquiry.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the concern there is about the amenities of the countryside in other parts of Essex as well? Is he in touch with the Civic Trust in such matters? It seems that the Trust's advice should be sought about a great deal of the development at present taking place in the countryside.

My right hon. Friend's status has to be preserved because of his appeal jurisdiction and, of course, such amenity interests can be represented at inquiries.

As this area is in my constituency, can my hon. Friend look very carefully at the whole planning position? We have the Central Electricity Authority taking one line, and barring planning in one area, and now we have this other problem in the coastal areas.




asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs in view of estimates now being made that immigrants this year may reach 150,000, what special arrangements he is making to provide houses or flats for such a number additional to the present housing programme.

As the great majority of immigrants on arrival do not need family accommodation, I do not think that there is warrant for the assumption that new houses and flats should be built in proportion to the numbers entering the country. So far as families are concerned, it is the practice of local authorities to assist the rehousing of settled immigrants in the ordinary course of their slum clearance and other housing activities, and I am sure that they will continue to do so.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that these immigrants want accommodation somewhere, and that the building trade's present and future programme is fully stretched? Would he tell his right hon. Friends and colleagues that we cannot take 150,000 persons this year on top of our present housing programme?

I do not know the basis of my hon. Friend's estimate of 150,000. I certainly would not be a party to any special building on grounds of race or colour. I think that by far the best thing is for us to maintain a high standard of building.

Landlord And Tenant Act, 1958


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that many of the county court judges in London, the Home Counties and some provincial areas are gravely concerned at the impending expiry of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1958, on 31st July next when they will no longer have any powers to give protection to tenants of decontrolled premises on hardship grounds; and whether, in view of their especial knowledge of the day to day working of this Act, he will consult with such county court judges as to the desirability of extending the Act for a further period.

Neither my right hon. Friend, the Lord Chancellor nor I have received any representations from county court judges. I do not think that any special action is called for.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the county court judges do not think it part of their business to initiate legislation? They do not approach the Lord Chancellor or my right hon. Friend—they approach us, so that we can put it to my right hon. Friend. Will he hastily initiate some discussion on these lines because, although the cases of hardship may be limited, those that are hard are very hard, and something must be done to protect these people? We do not propose to stand by while an old gentleman of 86 in my constituency—with a crippled daughter in her sixties—who has been 61 years in the same house, is about to be thrown out. That will not be done without protest.

The number of cases coming to the courts under this Act is, in fact, falling all the time. If there is any question of the owner of the house seeking an extortionate rent the local authority can make a compulsory purchase order. If it is a case of some very old person, such as my hon. and learned Friend has mentioned, who cannot otherwise get accommodation, that is unquestionably the sort of case in which the local authority ought to take special action.

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that the necessity for this Act arose because he under-estimated the hardships that would be caused by the Rent Act? It would be a great pity to cause further hardship by making a similar under-estimate on this occasion.



asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what answer he is sending to the Cardiff City Council's proposal that a national scheme of insurance should be set up to cover all risks not normally covered by the ordinary comprehensive householder or personal accident policies.

This suggestion will certainly be considered. But I am not in a position to make a statement.

Would the Minister consider calling in the insurance companies as well as the local authorities for a discussion of how this comprehensive system of insurance might be made really comprehensive, instead of being as it is at the moment?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will leave this with me for the time being. Statements have been made that the Government are looking at the whole problem in the round now that the winter floods are over. I have not anything further that I can say, but I am quite ready to follow up all suggestions, including that of the hon. Gentleman.

Compulsory Purchase


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that it is now possible for private landlords, in an area to be acquired compulsorily by a local authority for redevelopment, to spend substantial amounts of money on improvement of a house and soon afterwards to claim compensation at market value when the house is demolished; and whether he is considering legislation to prevent this.

It is already provided in paragraph 8 (5) of the Third Schedule to the Housing Act, 1957, that improvements effected after notice is given of a compulsory purchase order, and carried out with a view to increasing compensation, must be ignored in assessing compensation.


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether it is his policy to confirm compulsory purchase orders made by local authorities on residential property under the Housing Act, 1957, in order to prevent the eviction of a tenant, in circumstances where the rent asked by the landlord is over five times the gross annual value.

I think it would be unwise to take any particular multiple of gross value as the point at which rents of decontrolled properties can be said to be exorbitant. Values of property have risen since 1939, more in some places than in others. Moreover, the other conditions of the tenancy need to be examined as well as the rent demanded. Each case has to be decided on its merits.

Is the Minister aware that he has just refused to confirm a compulsory purchase order in a case in my constituency where the family is being evicted under the Rent Act and where the borough council has asked for a compulsory purchase order and where the rent being asked is more than five times the gross annual value?

This is a case in which the borough council made a compulsory purchase order and partly, at any rate, as a result of that, the rent being asked has been reduced from £400 to £300. That rent, which includes a sum for landlord services, I calculate at four and a half times the gross value.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the case which I have in mind he has refused to confirm the compulsory purchase order and that the rent being asked is in fact five times the gross annual value? Will he undertake, if that is so, to look at the case again?

We are considering the same case, but the right hon. Gentleman calculates the rent at five times and I am allowing for the fact that, by common consent, the rent includes something for landlord's services.

Development Programmes (Parish Councils)


asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that rural district councils give advance information to parish councils regarding proposed future housing development programmes in their parishes.

Normally each parish is represented on the rural district council, and I would hardly have thought that special legislation to give effect to my hon. Friend's suggestion was justified.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that development is going on in rural villages where the villagers have had no knowledge of it at all? I know of one village, for example, which consists of a hundred houses and where plans for building another hundred, doubling the size, are well advanced. That will alter the whole character of the village, and it is causing bitter resentment among the villagers. Does that encourage local people to sit on parish councils?

I advise the people in that and other villages to vote at the rural district council elections this week, because every parish has its own representative on the rural district council.

European Economic Community (Agriculture)


asked the Prime Minister if his assurance to the hon. Member for Louth on 16th July, 1957, that the provisions of a free trade area in Europe would not whittle away the safeguards and protections enjoyed by British agriculture still holds good; and if he will make a statement.

As has been made quite clear, both in this House and outside, satisfactory arrangements in respect of the interests of British agriculture, our fellow members of the Commonwealth and our partners in the European Free Trade Association are a precondition of any closer association with the European Economic Community.

Does my right hon. Friend remember saying something even stronger to me about three years ago? He said:

"…the provisions of a Free Trade Area could not extend to agricultural products."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1957; Vol. 573, c. 943.]
Is he aware that the farmers in my constituency are getting rather nervous and fear that the bad old days of the 1930s are coming back again, and that they would be grateful to him for his reassurance that the protection which they have enjoyed will not be whittled away?

The negotiations then, of course, were about the European Free Trade Area, which specifically included agriculture. Those negotiations broke down. I want to make it quite clear that the interests of agriculture, the Commonwealth and of our partners in E.F.T.A. must be a precondition for any negotiations to be satisfactory.

Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that in any negotiations the principle of the tariff-free entry into this country of Commonwealth exports of raw material, as well as food, which is to the advantage of the British consumer as well as British agriculture, will be preserved by the Government?

Of course, all those matters will be fully taken into account, but we have not yet reached that point. We have had some preliminary discussions with officials to see whether there is a possibilty of negotiations being successful, taking into account what we regard as necessary preconditions.

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the statement, re ported in today's issue of The Times to have been made by Professor Hallstein in Hamburg yesterday, to the effect that President Kennedy had made it clear to my right hon. Friend that only full membership of the Community—

That is out of order. A Minister cannot be asked to comment on a statement for which he is not responsible.

Would not the Prime Minister agree that we may get the worst of both worlds by a continued state of uncertainty? Can he say when Her Majesty's Government can make any definite statement about whether it is the intention or wish of Britain to enter the Common Market and what proposals will be put forward with a view to bringing to an end the division of Europe into two separate economic blocs?

We are having these various discussions in order to see whether there is a basis for negotiation to be likely to be successful. As I have said very often, and I think it is generally accepted, nothing could be worse than to have a long negotiation which then broke down. It would be better to try to get a general idea of whether there is a possibility of agreement on acceptable lines.

The Prime Minister referred to the talks which have been taking place between the French and British officials. Can he say something about the outcome of those talks and what the next stage of the discussions is likely to be?

I understand that some progress was made and there is to be a fresh meeting.

Elgin Marbles


asked the Prime Minister what conversations he has had with the Prime Minister of Greece regarding the return to that country of the Elgin Marbles removed from the Acropolis in Athens in 1799 and now at the British Museum.

The Prime Minister will be aware of the gratitude generated and the appreciation felt when we made a similar gesture in returning the national treasures of Ethiopia and Burma some time ago. Now that relations between the United Kingdom and Greece have returned to their former happy state, would not the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of first taking copies of these antiquities and then returning them, on grounds of generosity, to a very loyal ally, causing them to be restored to their former sites where they would certainly be likely to be seen by far more people, probably including far more British people, than they would by remaining in a musty room in the British Museum?

I will consider what the hon. Gentleman has said, but this is a complicated question and it can hardly be solved without careful consideration. I am told that it is thought by many experts that, after their many years of careful preservation in the British Museum, the Elgin Marbles are better in that position and are certainly seen by a much larger number of people than would be the case if they were returned. There is a problem and I will certainly not dismiss it from my mind, but this is a very important matter.

European Common Market


asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from Chancellor Adenauer concerning the possible entry of Great Britain into the Common Market; and what reply he has made.

I have had no communication on this subject from Chancellor Adenauer since our last talks. The Chancellor was then very helpful and that spirit has animated our subsequent talks with the Germans at the official level.

As Herr Adenauer has publicly stated that he would very much like Britain to join the European Common Market, and as the Government evidently wish to do the same thing, would it not be a good idea for the Prime Minister to get into communication with him and make use of his aid and support? Does he not agree with Lord Gladwyn that since the Government have decided to do this, every day that we delay means that the terms on which we join become progressively worse?

No, Sir. As I have said before, it is not a question of joining. If the hon. Member means that we should sign the Treaty of Rome and that is all, then that is quite impossible and we have never even considered it with our allies. What we have to decide is whether it would be possible to associate ourselves with membership of such an organisation, subject to a protocol or agreement reserving those important matters mentioned a moment ago.


asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from President Kennedy about exploratory talks between the President and President de Gaulle, with a view to preparing the ground for negotiations between the United Kingdom and French Governments on the political and economic implication of merging the European Free Trade Area and the European Economic Community.

Any communications of this nature which I might have would be confidential. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have observed in the agreed communiqué isued after my discussions with President Kennedy, we said that we recognised both the urgency and the importance of further steps towards the economic and political unity of Europe.

No doubt President Kennedy will speak in the same spirit in his talks with President de Gaulle.

Would the Prime Minister assure the House that, so far as he is concerned, he would understand that any intervention by President Kennedy with General de Gaulle on this problem would be based on Britain's entering the Common Market in agreement with her E.F.T.A. partners and having regard to her Commonwealth committments?

Yes, Sir, and the interests of British agriculture. All those have always been regarded as preconditions. The problem remains. It is a very difficult and technical problem, as those who have studied the details are aware, of whether this can be done. I have always thought that it could be done if there was a will on all sides to do it, but I recognise the difficulty and complication in any such negotiation.