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Written Answers

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 11th May, 1961


School Children (Maintenance Grants)


asked the Minister of Education whether he proposes to include in his new Bill governing university awards similar statutory requirements on maintenance grants for poorer children remaining on at school after the age of 15.

There are differences between maintenance allowances to school children and awards to university students. Though the precise terms of the Bill have not yet been settled, I do not expect to propose any significant changes in the law affecting the payment of maintenance allowances.

Grammar Schools, Urmston


asked the Minister of Education for what reasons he sanctioned the proposal of the Lancashire Education Committee to divide the coeducational Urmston Grammar School into two single-sex grammar schools.

Because a new grammar school was needed and the local education authority thought that the best solution was to make the existing school a girls' school and the new school a boys' school.

School Ship Project


asked the Minister of Education what representations he has received respecting the school ship project being operated by the British India Steam Navigation Company Limited, in which local education authorities are permitting pupils to take part; and what steps he proposes to take to foster this project.

My Department gave the shipping company what help it could in organising this project, but I leave it to local education authorites and schools to decide whether or not to take part in it.

Schools (Building Costs)


asked the Minister of Education how the average cost of schools built in 1955 compares with 1960; and what was the corresponding figure for 1950–51.

The average net cost per place of new primary schools was£158 in 1950,£143 in 1955 and£155 in 1960. The comparable figures for new secondary schools are£276,£244 and£271.

School Building, Durham


asked the Minister of Education how many schools and school places are at present under construction in Durham; and how these figures compare with the rest of the country.

On 31st December, 1960, 19 schools and 8,970 school places were under construction in Durham compared with 503 and 244,945 in the whole of England and Wales.

Students (National Insurance Contributions)


asked the Minister of Education whether he will make a statement on the recommendation of the Committee on Grants to Students, that award-holders should be covered for the payment of National Insurance contributions.

I have considered this recommendation of the Anderson Committee but have decided to make no change in my present practice.

Secondary School Examinations Council (Report)


asked the Minister of Education what action has been taken pursuant to the Third Report of the Secondary School Examinations Council, 1960.


asked the Minister of Education whether he will make a statement about the Third Report of the Secondary School Examinations. Council, which made proposals for a reform of the General Certificate of Education examination at advanced level.

I have recently received the final recommendations of the Council on the scheme proposed in this Report. The Council consulted the universities and took account of comments received from other bodies. It has asked me to go ahead and implement the scheme with one modification. I have agreed to do so. A Circular will be issued today, together with the Chairman's letter to me.

Grammar School Students (Specialisation)


asked the Minister of Education what measures he proposes to take to discourage premature and excessive specialisation in the grammar schools.

There is no short answer to this question. It involves the schools, the universities and the Secondary School Examinations Council, all of whom are actively tackling it, with every encouragement from me.

Student, Edinburgh University (Grant)

asked the Minister of Education if he will now state whether Mr. John Reilly will be given a grant to cover his fourth year at Edinburgh University.

The principle involved in this case has been considered by the education committee but its recommendation has to be endorsed by the city council as local education authority. Owing to the municipal elections the coucil cannot meet before the end of the month.

Building Programme, Normanton

asked the Minister of Education what proposals have been put to him concerning school building in the urban district area of Normanton.

The enlargement of the Normanton County Secondary School was proposed for the 1962–63 programme and I have undertaken to consider it for 1963–64. Meanwhile I have been considering the plans in the hope that an early start may be possible. A new junior school and the extension of the Girls' High School have been proposed for the 1964–65 programme, on which decisions have not yet been made.




asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how much of the£3,500,000 capital which the Jamaican Government wishes to raise during the present financial year in overseas markets will be provided by Her Majesty's Government.

The Jamaican Government have made no approach to Her Majesty's Government for assistance in raising capital during the present financial year.


Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Nairobi (Nurses)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the shortage of nurses in the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Nairobi; and what are the prospects of recruiting the nurses now needed.

I understand that this hospital is run by the European Hospital Association; responsibility for the recruitment of nurses for it does not, therefore, fall either to the Government of Kenya or to my right hon. Friend. I am, however, asking the Governor if he can supply this information and I will write to my hon. Friend.

Northern Rhodesia



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many doctors there are in Northern Rhodesia; and how many inhabitants this represents for each doctor.

Health is a Federal responsibility, but I am informed that there are 338 medical practitioners registered in Northern Rhodesia; that is about one to every 7,000 inhabitants.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Roads, Wales (Improvement Grants)


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the amount of grant paid to the Merioneth County Council under the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, 1955.

Up to 31st March, 1961, grants amounting to£109,228 had been paid to the Merioneth County Council under the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, 1955.


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many grants have been made under the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, and what were the amounts of those grants, in each of the Welsh counties, up to the latest convenient date.

The information requested is as follows:

CountiesNumber of Schemes on which payments have been made (including payments on account)Total amount of grant paid

Brood Mares (Railway Concessions)


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make representations to the British Transport Commission that brood mare railway concessions be continued after 1st May, 1961.

No; I do not think it would be right for me to intervene in the day-to-day operations of the British Transport Commission.

Grey Squirrels


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he proposes to take to control the increasing numbers of grey squirrels.

I do not close my mind to the possible need for Government action. But from the evidence that is so far available on the damage being caused by the grey squirrel, I am not convinced that there is at present any need for me to intervene.



asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has concerning falls in the price of barley during the last two or three weeks; and how much this is due to the dumping of barley in this country by France and by Russia.

The price of home-grown feed barley has fallen by at least 10s. per ton over the past two or three weeks. This is largely due to low-priced imports from a number of countries.

Radioactive Discharges (Marine Life)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research has been done since April, 1956, on the concentration of potentially radioactive materials in oysters and other marine life; and if he will make a statement.

The Ministry's Radiobiological Laboratory at Lowestoft has carried out laboratory and field research into the uptake of radioactivity by marine life, not only since 1956 but for the past 12 years, with a view to providing basic data for controlled discharges of radioactivity under safe conditions from Atomic Energy Authority and civil nuclear power stations situated on the coast. These studies have been made on all important forms of marine life occurring at the particular sites and particularly on those entering into the human food chain. Uptake by oysters has been intensively studied since 1959 in connection with future discharges from the Bradwell site and, on the basis of this and previous research the Ministry's scientists have proposed levels of discharge which they are satisfied will be completely safe from the point of view of consumption of oysters by the human population.

Security Procedures And Practices


asked the Prime Minister whether, in the light of the several unprecedented features of recent spy cases, he will issue urgent instructions to the security service and to the security department of the Foreign Office and those of other services that any matter brought to their attention should be followed up thoroughly regardless of the nature of any allegations made.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement which I made today.

Trade And Commerce

Steel Company Of Wales (American Coking Coal)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the application of the Steel Company of Wales for a licence to import coal from the United States of America.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he intends to grant a licence for the import of United States coal.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what request he has had from the Steel Company of Wales, or from any other company, to consider granting a licence for the importation of United States coal.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what reply he has made to the application of the Steel Company of Wales to import coal; and whether before considering any departure in policy in this respect he will have full consultations with the National Union of Mineworkers.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he intends to grant a licence to the Steel Company of Wales to import American coking coal; and whether he will make a statement.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the reasons for his refusal to grant a licence to import American coal which is 30s. a ton cheaper than comparable British coal; what effect he estimates this will have upon industrial production costs; how far it will affect the United Kingdom's ability to export; and if he will make a statement.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has come to a decision concerning the application of the Steel Company of Wales to import American coal into this country; and if he will make a statement.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the application of the Steel Company of Wales to import American coal into this country.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received requesting the granting of a licence for the import of coal from the United States of America; and what was the nature of his reply.

An application by the Steel Company of Wales to import American coking coal was refused last November. The Company subsequently renewed its application and made further representations on the subject which I am now considering.

Textiles (International Conference)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what reply he has sent to the invitation of President Kennedy for the United Kingdom to be represented at an international conference of the principal textile exporting and importing countries; and if he will make a statement.

This suggestion for an international conference of principal exporting and importing countries has been announced only in very general terms. We are looking forward to discussing it in more detail with the United States Government.

Coal (Imports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give details of any applications he has received for the import of foreign coal in the current year; how many licences he has granted; and whether he will make a statement.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications for permits for the import of coal from the United States of America have been made by steel firms; and how many have been granted.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that imports of coal from the United States of America will meet opposition from miners; and whether, in view of this, he will refrain from granting licences for these imports.

Apart from small quantities for special purposes, no licences for imports of coal have been granted since the beginning of 1958 and only one application has recently been received. I am considering the important issues involved in this case with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has granted an import permit for United States coal to a steel firm in the North-East; and what is the quantity and value of this licence.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what effect he estimates imports of coal will have on the balance of payments; and what steps he takes to restrict imports detrimental to vital United Kingdom industries.

Since no imports, other than small quantities for special purposes, are at present allowed, it would be unrealistic to estimate the effects of imports of coal on the balance of payments. It is not the Government's general policy to use import controls to restrict imports although a few limited categories of goods, including coal, are still controlled by import licensing.

Industries, Wales (Coal Prices)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make representations to the National Coal Board to reduce the price of coal supplied to industries engaged in the export drive in Wales, with a view to promoting exports and avoiding the need to import cheap coal from overseas.

I have been asked to reply.I do not think it would either be practical or appropriate for the Board to relate its prices to the export performance of its customers.

National Finance

Payroll Tax


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the revenue that would be obtained from the payroll tax if applied to the motor industry and the machine tool industry, respectively.

The answer would depend upon the rate or rates at which the surcharge was imposed, the length of time for which it remained in force and the number of employees in employment in the industries concerned during that time. With so many variables I cannot hazard any estimate of revenue from the surcharge as it might affect particular industries.



asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the loss to the revenue if a wife's earned income allowance were included as an allowance for Surtax.

Bank Rate

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the fact that the German Bank Rate has just been reduced from 3½per cent. to 3 per cent., and that the rate in the United States of America is 3 per cent., in Switzerland 2 per cent., in the Netherlands, Norway and France 3½per cent., as against London's 5 per cent., he will seek greater Central Bank co-operation in the western world for the unification, and the lowering, of money rates everywhere, so as to reduce the heavy charges on industry and the social services; and if he will make a statement.

While recognising the importance of the objectives my hon. Friend has in mind, I have nothing to add to the Answers given to him on 22nd November, 1960, and 28th February, 1961.

Trustee Savings Banks (Capital Development)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has for assisting the capital development of trustee savings banks.

Trustee Savings Banks have hitherto relied for their capital development mainly on surplus funds accumulated in the past periods when their income was generally in excess of the interest paid to depositors and management expenses; those banks with insufficient capital have borrowed on generous terms from other savings banks. But the sums available for lending in this way are limited, and my predecessor recognised that if branches were to be expanded and brought up to date, and if even only a modest number of new branches were to be opened, a new source of finance was required. He therefore agreed in principle that the rate of interest payable to the Banks on their deposits with the National Debt Office should be increased in order to build up a fund for capital development.The necessary arrangements for this have now been made, and I am proposing to increase the rate of interest paid to the Trustee Savings Banks by 1s. from£3 per cent. to£3 1s. per cent. for a limited period not exceeding five years, in order to set up once for all a capital fund from which the necessary Savings Banks development can be financed. The capital fund will be administered centrally by the Trustee Savings Banks Association under arrangements set out in the Fourth Mutual Assistance Scheme to which all Trustee Savings Banks have agreed. Loans from the fund will be free of interest and will be repayable over 10 years or 20 years depending on the purpose for which the loan is made. All capital development by Trustee Savings Banks will continue to require the approval of the National Debt Office. It is intended that the first credit to the capital fund, representing the sum raised by the additional 1s. per cent. per annum for the first half-year should be made on 21st November, 1961. This will require the interest to accrue from 21st May, 1961. A Treasury Order, raising the rate of interest from the latter date is being laid before Parliament.

Home Department

Metropolitan Police Force (Recruits)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what considerations, not relating to the personal character and ability of a candidate, are taken into account when considering his selection for the Metropolitan Police force.

In order to be accepted as a recruit to the Metropolitan Police, a candidate must be of good character and background, reach the necessary physical and educational standards, and satisfy the selection board acting on behalf of the Commissioner that he is in all respects likely to be a satisfactory member of the force.

Fire Services (Pay And Conditions)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to setting up an inquiry into the present conditions and salaries in the Fire Service.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the Answer which I gave to a Question by the right hon. Member for Smethwick on 4th May.

Fire, Bolton (Inspectors' Reports)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has yet considered the re port of Her Majesty's Inspectors upon the circumstances of the fire at Crown Street, Bolton, on 1st May, 1961; whether he will now order a public inquiry to be held; and whether he will make a statement.

I have considered Her Majesty's Inspectors' reports, which deal fully with the facts of the disaster. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The circumstances will be subject to inquiry at the coroner's inquest. On the information before me it seems that the action taken by the fire brigade was prompt and as effective as the difficult circumstances allowed. I am not yet in a position to make a decision about a further inquiry but I do not underrate the gravity of the case, and I am considering as a matter of urgency whether the law relating to fire prevention, and in particular means of escape, in premises of this kind needs strengthening.

Prisons (Rules And Standing Orders)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the last edition of Rules and Standing Orders for the Government of Prisons was published; and when a new edition, including all amendments made since the last edition, will be published.

The Prison Rules were made in 1949 and amended in 1952 and 1956; and it is hoped to consolidate them before the end of the year.The Standing Orders issued in 1933 have been extensively amended from time to time and are being gradually replaced. The work will be completed as soon as possible.

Prisoners (Interviews With Members Of Parliament)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that constituents in prison who have exercised their right of making complaints through the appointed channels are subsequently unable to interview their Members of Parliament except in the presence and within the hearing of the Governor, Deputy Governor or chief officer; why Members of Parliament are denied by the Prison Commissioners the facilities afforded for interviews to solicitors and probation officers; and whether he will direct that Members of Parliament with a visiting order may see prisoners in sight but out of hearing of any prison official.

It is the general rule that, with the exception of legal advisers and probation officers who are in a special position, all visitors, including Members of Parliament, see prisoners in the presence of a prison officer. On consideration this practice seems to have been accepted and should be maintained.

Magistrates' Courts (Payment Of Fines)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what legislative action he proposes to take to avoid evasion of the law where an accused person is proved guilty and sentenced to a fine by a magistrate but the fine is paid not by the accused but by another person or persons without authorisation from the accused person; and how many such cases occur annually in the magistrates' courts in the Metropolitan Police area

I am not aware of any general demand for legislation to prohibit the payment of a fine by a person other than the offender. I regret that no statistics of the kind that the hon. Member asks for are available.

Convicted Persons (Indian Hemp)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the countries of origin of the 235 persons convicted for offences involving cannabis, or Indian hemp, in Great Britain during 1960.

I am informed that the known countries of origin were:

Angola (1), Antigua (1), Barbados (2), British Guiana (5), Ceylon (1), Cyprus (12), Dominica (1), Finland (1), Gambia (5), Ghana (7), India (8), Irish Republic (1), Jamaica (88), Liberia (1), Malta (6), Nigeria (17), Poland (1), Portuguese India (3), Sierra Leone (3), Sweden (1), Trinidad (6), Union of South Africa (5), United Kingdom (53).
In six cases the country of origin could not be identified.

Prison Service (Cadets)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give further details of the proposed scheme for cadet officers in the prison service.

This proposal is the subject of discussion between the Prison Commissioners and the Prison Officers' Association, and the details of any scheme which might be introduced have not been settled. The general object of the scheme would be to recruit locally a limited number of cadets aged 17 or more, who would assist prison officers in various types of work not involving the sole control of prisoners. The cadets' personal and physical suitability would be tested by interviews with the governor and medical officer, and a general educational standard would be required. Arrangements for the cadets' general and vocational education would be made locally and through the Officers' Training School at Wakefield. A cadet would be eligible for appointment as an established prison officer on reaching the minimum age for entry to the prison service, provided that he were able to satisfy the normal requirements for established officers.

Fire Services (Strength)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state, for each county and county borough area, the extent of undermanning in the fire service, for the latest date for which figures are available.

The following table shows, for each fire brigade in England and Wales, the establishment

Fire BrigadeEstablishmentStrength
Berkshire and Reading152134
Isle of Ely2322
Isle of Wight2019
Isles of Scilly
Leicestershire and Rutland109922
Lincs. (Holland)2222
Lincs. (Kesteven)2321
Lincs. (Lindsey)10098
Soke of Peterborough3938
Suffolk (East)150136
Suffolk (West and Ipswich)
Sussex (East)104955
Sussex (West)121123
Worcester County and County Borough1591517
Yorks. (East Riding)3230
Yorks. (North Riding)150144
Yorks. (West Riding)760732
Brecon and Radnorshire13143
Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire7167
Denbigh and Montgomeryshire6353

and strength of whole-time firemen at 31st December. 1960.

Fire BrigadeEstablishmentStrength

County Boroughs—England—

East Ham70701
Great Yarmouth4646
Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead258243
Newport (Mon.)7474
St. Helens7875
Smethwick and West Bromwich8987
South Shields7575

Fire BrigadeEstablishmentStrength

County BoroughsEnglandcont.

West Ham153140
West Hartlepool5248

County Boroughs—Wales—

Merthyr Tydfil3131
Total County Boroughs8,3727,9326
Total County Councils14,19612,815132
GRAND TOTALS22,56820,747138


Fire Services (Strength)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of the existing fire brigade strength throughout the country consists of men who entered the service in 1939; how many retirements are expected during the next five years; and how many men were recruited to the service in each of the last three years.

Approximately 173 members, that is 8 per cent. of the present whole-time strength, entered the Fire Service in 1939.Two hundred and one whole-time members are due to retire from Scottish brigades during the next five years.Particulars of recruitment to the Fire Service in each year are included in the annual reports of Her Majesty's Inspector of Fire Services for Scotland, published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.


Engineering Industry (Apprentices)


asked the Minister of Labour if he will take steps to ensure that engineering firms taking apprentices provide full and adequate resources to fulfil their training.

The national agreement setting out the engineering industry's recruitment and training scheme provides for the establishment of joint local training committees which are responsible for ensuring that the agreed conditions of the scheme are observed.

Converted Cotton Mills (Fire Precautions)


asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the extra fire hazards of cotton mill premises when used for other purposes and referred to in the Annual Reports of Fire Officers, what steps he has in mind for the greater protection of those employed in such buildings; and whether such steps include early legislation.

The fire provisions in the Factories Acts were substantially strengthened by the Act of 1959. Factory inspectors, in enforcing these provisions, are aware of the special problems of converted cotton mills. The Bill which I hope to introduce next Session will deal with fire precautions in shops and offices.


Casualties (North West Metropolitan Regional Area)

asked the Minister of Health if he will state the number of casualties received by each of the following hospitals in the North West Metropolitan Regional Area, namely, Central Middlesex, Harrow, Edgeware, Mount Vernon, Wembley, Finchley and Acton, in the nine months beginning 1st July, 1959, and 1st July, 1960, respectively.

The following table shows the number of new cases received in the casualty departments of these hospitals:

Central Middlesex16,96116,880
Mount Veron4,8054,850

British Army

Baor (Hotels And Private Accommodation)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will explain the system by which British Service men are allocated accommodation in hotels and private accommodation; what rent allowance they receive; and what is the average rent charged in hotels and private accommodation, respectively.

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has B.A.O.R. in mind. Accommodation in hotels and private accommodation is not allotted to married Service men, though they are allowed to occupy it under their own arrangements, and are assisted with the cost. Accommodation must satisfy certain standards, and be certified as suitable by the applicant's commanding officer.Service men living with their families in private accommodation in B.A.O.R. are paid from 2s. 9d. to 3s. 9d. a day according to rank, in addition to normal rates of local overseas allowance.In B.A.O.R. Service men living with their families in hotels receive in lieu of normal rates of local overseas allowance a special rate of£1 10s. a day (officers) or£1 5s. a day (other ranks).

The average inclusive charge in German hotels is£7 to£9 per adult a week, and the average weekly rent for private accommodation is£3 to£5.

Ordnance Factories

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the number of ordnance factories and the number of persons employed therein at the latest convenient date.

There are, under the control of the War Office, thirteen active Royal Ordnance Factories and one under care and maintenance. They are at present employing 25,000 people.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the number of ordnance factories in development areas and in Northern Ireland, and the number of persons employed therein at the latest convenient date.

There are two factories, employing 3,736 staff on 1st May, 1961, in development areas in Renfrewshire and Carmarthenshire. There are no ordnance factories in Northern Ireland.

Ministry Of Works

Government Hospitality Fund

asked the Minister of Works whether he is yet able to make a statement about the recommendation of the Select Committee on Estimates that the system and operation of the Government Hospitality Fund should be the subject of an inquiry.

Yes. The Treasury proposes to institute a review of the present arrangements for the preparation of the Estimate with the object of ensuring that, so far as is practicable in the unusually difficult circumstances, no likely expenditure which can reasonably be foreseen is overlooked.