Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 15th, May, 1961




asked the Minister of Power on what information he bases his forecast of the cost of public electricity generation over the twelve months 1961–62.

I have made no forecast of the cost of public electricity generation in 1961–62. If my hon. Friend is referring to the forecast of the cost of capital expenditure on public electricity generation in 1961–62, this is based on estimated requirements put forward by the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Farms, South Wales (Connections)


asked the Minister of Power what number and what proportion of farms in the area of the South Wales Electricity Board were connected to an electricity supply at the latest convenient date; and how this proportion compared with the average for the United Kingdom.

At 31st March, 1961, 16,631 farms in the area of the South Wales Electricity Board were connected. This was 70·8 per cent. of all farms in the area. The average for England and Wales was 83·8 per cent.

Ministry Of Aviation

Airport Charges


asked the Minister of Aviation by how much his latest in creased charges are expected to reduce the deficit of London Airport in a full year.

I expect the increased charges to close the deficit for London (Heathrow) Airport in the current year, but to leave a deficit of £1 million for London (Gatwick) Airport and about £230,000 for Stansted.

London Airport (Car Parks)


asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will now announce the results of his study into the possibility of long-term parking provision outside the central terminal at London Airport.

Garaging facilities off the airport and arrangements to ferry passengers or cars to and from the central terminal are already available from several private concerns. The Ministry is prepared to lease land on the edge of the airport to meet any increased demand for long-term parking.

Ministry Of Health

Motor Tricycles (Disabled Persons)


asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement on the steps he has taken to speed up the arrangements made by his Department for supplying mechanised vehicles for disabled persons.

Orders for motor tricycles will now go forward as soon as eligibility has been settled, provided it appears that garage arrangements will be complete by the time the machines are ready for delivery.

General Practitioners, Sunderland


asked the Minister of Health how many practitioners are on the medical list of the Sunderland Executive Council.

Dentists, Sunderland


asked the Minister of Health how many persons there are on average to each dental practitioner in Sunderland.

Bronchial Diseases, West Riding

asked the Minister of Health if he will institute an investigation into the causes of the high incidence of bronchial diseases in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

I understand that the incidence of these diseases and their causes are being studied in many areas by the Medical Research Council and other research organisations.


asked the Minister of Health how many prescriptions were dispensed in each of the first three months of 1961; and what was the average cost per item in each month.

The information is as follows:

England and Wales
Number of itemsAverage cost per item
January, 196123·674·39
February, 196122·2Not yet
March, 196117·5Not yet


Psychopathic Patients


asked the Minister of Health how many patients not of subnormal intelligence are at present in guardianship and detained in hospitals by virtue of applications for admission for treatment as psychopathic patients; how many local authorities and how many hospitals have developed special facilities for treating such patients: and what action he is taking to encourage the provision of such facilities by other local authorities and in other hospitals.

I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available but the results of a count taken on 30th April should provide valuable statistics on psychopathy. Facilities for treating psychopaths exist at most major psychiatric hospitals, and will be developed as indicated in my reply to the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), on 18th April, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy. The treatment required is mainly hospital treatment; but the general development of local authority provision for mental health should assist.

Hospital Beds, Tees-Side


asked the Minister of Health how many hospitals there are in the Tees-side group whose bed capacity is not fully occupied; and why they are under-occupied.

Occupancy is 84·9 per cent. and 82·1 per cent in the North and South Tees-side Groups respectively. This is not unsatisfactory. The comparable average for the whole region is 78·8 per cent.

Sedgefield General Hospital And Darlington Memorial Hospital


asked the Minister of Health what is the number of admissions to the Sedgefield General Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital, for the last twelve months; and how these figures compare with the rate of admissions for the years 1957, 1958 and 1959.

The figures are not readily available in this form, but I am circulating figures for discharges and deaths which, over twelve months, would be almost the same as the figures for admissions.

Following are the figures:

Sedgefield General HospitalDarlington Memorial Hospital
1st April, 1960, to 31st March, 19615,0906,912

asked the Minister of Health what is the average waiting time for admission to the Sedgefield General Hospital and the Darlington Memorial Hospital, respectively; how this average compares with the rest of the region; and how many patients are still on the waiting lists at these hospitals.

Figures of average waiting times are not available. The following table analyses the waiting lists on 28th February, 1961.

Time on Waiting listSedgefield General HospitalDarlington Memorial Hospital
Up to 1 month140247
1–2 months73123
2–4 months100123
4–12 months58249
Over 12 months2448

Plastic Surgery Unit, Chepstow


asked the Minister of Health what is the number of patients now awaiting admission to the St. Lawrence plastic surgery unit at Chepstow; how many have been awaiting admission for six months or longer; and what is the total number of these who live in the County of Glamorgan, including the county boroughs of Merthyr, Swansea and Cardiff.



asked the Minister of Health whether he will require hospital committees to give nurses an automatic right to be accompanied by a friend when they are summoned to appear before them on disciplinary questions; and whether he will make a statement on conditions of employment and of dismissal of nurses by hospital committees.

Hospital authorities are so required. Nurses' conditions of employment are governed generally by agreements of the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council. Their appointment and dismissal rest with the employing authority.

Waiting Lists


asked the Minister of Health if he will institute an inquiry into the periods of waiting for hospital beds by patients for whom treatment has been ordered; and if he will make a statement.

I am considering what changes are needed in the present system of compiling and analysing waiting lists to ensure that they are realistic, and what further advice can be given to hospital authorities to assist them in reducing the backlog of cases in the various specialties.

Senior Registrars


asked the Minister of Health what would be the annual cost of absorbing all-time expired senior registrars into the consultant grade.

The initial annual cost would be up to £90,000, depending on whether they elected to be whole-time or otherwise.

Convalescent Homes (Old People)

asked the Minister of Health what provision he is making for an increase in the number of places available for old people in convalescent homes, in view of the difficulty experienced in placing people over 70 years of age in such homes.

Hospital authorities are responsible for the convalescent care of old people who need it after active hospital treatment. They provide it either by contractual arrangements or in premises of their own. They were asked in October, 1959, to review their arrangements, and to consider what priority they should give to any increased provision they thought necessary. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind I shall be glad to consider it.

Hospital Building (Non-Exchequer Funds)

asked the Minister of Health if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the list of new hospitals or hospital departments the building of which he has sanctioned out of non-exchequer funds during the past ten years; and if he will give the dates of completion.

Plastic Surgery Unit, South Wales

asked the Minister of Health what is the number of protests he has now received concerning the siting of the plastic surgery unit in South Wales and the necessity for a second plastic surgery unit.

None since the reply given to the hon. Member on 27th February, to which I would refer him.

South Vietnam


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the present situation in South Vietnam, and on the extent to which foreign military aid is being given to both sides in the civil war.

I have little to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend on 19th April. The Vietnamese Army has since then had some local successes against the Communist guerillas but the security situation remains precarious.The legal Government of South Vietnam receives substantial economic assistance including defence support from the United States. There is no reasonable doubt that the Communist rebels receive direction and help from the North and that many of the rebels are trained in North Vietnam and infiltrated into Southern territory by both land and sea. It should be clear that this is a Communist attempt to overthrow the legal Government of South Vietnam by insurgency and terrorism. Incitement to revolution is a constant feature of broadcasts from Hanoi.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what plans have been submitted to the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation for the provision of additional military and para-military aid to the Government of South Vietnam.

Angola (United Nations Resolution)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will call for a report from the United Kingdom representative at the United Nations following the recent Assembly vote calling for an inquiry into conditions in Angola; and if he will make a statement.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what action Her Majesty's Government has taken to expedite the establishment of a United Nations Committee of Inquiry on Angola following the resolution adopted by the General Assembly.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the worsening situation in Angola, he will take steps to raise the matter again before the United Nations Security Council, as a situation likely to endanger international peace and security.

The resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20th April decided inter alia

"to appoint a sub-committee consisting of five members to be appointed by the President of the General Assembly."
I understand the members of this committee will be appointed by the President of the Assembly in the near future.

European Economic Community (Discussions)


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the recent official Anglo-French economic discussions in London.

British and French officials met in London on 2nd and 3rd May to continue the exploratory discussions begun last February about the problems involved in establishing a closer relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community. These discussions were friendly and constructive. Useful progress was made in clarifying the complex issues involved. It was agreed to hold a further meeting in June.

Geneva Conference On Nuclear Tests


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Soviet proposal at the Geneva Test Conference for a tripartite control would give each of the three members the power of veto; and whether the tripartite control would be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government if it were to operate by majority decision.

The Answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes" and to the second "No".


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will now make a personal approach to Mr. Khrushchev concerning the deadlock in the conference on the ending of nuclear weapon tests.

There is nothing I can usefully add to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) on 4th May.

Guatemalan Foreign Minister (Visit)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the recent visit to this country of the Foreign Minister of Guatemala; and whether the discussions included reference to recent events in Cuba.

The Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Senor Unda Murillo, paid a private visit to this country from 29th April to 2nd May during a tour of Europe. During his stay he took the opportunity of visiting the Foreign Office when a number of topics of current international interest were discussed.

Laos (Geneva Conference)


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will propose that the Geneva Conference shall hear and consider reports from the International Commissions for Vietnam and Cambodia on the execution of the Geneva Agreements in those countries.

No. It has been agreed between the Co-Chairmen that the title of the Geneva Conference shall be the "International Conference for the Settlement of the Laotian question".


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the cease fire negotiations in Laos and the Geneva Conference on Laos.

The House will be aware that, following the receipt by the Co-Chairmen of a report from the International Control Commission on Laos that the cease-fire in Laos was effective, Delegations assembled in Geneva on 12th May to attend the proposed International Conference. The Conference has not so far begun owing to difficulty over the question of who will represent Laos. The Communists wish to seat the delegation of the Pathet Lao, the Communist military organisation, on an equal footing with representatives of the rival governments of Prince Boun Oum and Prince Souvanna Phouma. Negotiations to solve this problem are still going on in Geneva. These difficulties were not unexpected and we hope that the Conference will be able to begin its work once they are out of the way.

Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement


asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made in the negotiations with the Egyptian Government to secure compensation for dismissed British civil servants; what points are still outstanding; and when a satisfactory agreement will be concluded.

Article III (f) of the Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement provided for an interim payment of £100,000 to the former British officials of the Egyptian Government, and for the re-establishment of a Commission to make a final assessment of the compensation due to them, which would be payable in sterling. As my right hon. Friend told the House on 3rd May, we understand that the Commission has virtually completed its work. Our Embassy in Cairo has been assured that its report will be submitted to the Egyptian Ministers on 20th May. We hope that a decision will be taken shortly thereafter leading to a final settlement of this matter.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Oslo Conference)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what Governments were represented at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Conference at Oslo.

All fifteen member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were represented at the Oslo Conference.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what decisions were taken by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council in Oslo concerning the situation in Portuguese Angola.

No decisions were taken, though there was an exchange of views on the subject.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what decisions were taken at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council on the question of Spanish membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Diplomatic Relations (Conference)


asked the Lord Privy Seal why Her Majesty's Government did not sign the 53-article Convention approved at the Conference for the purpose of preparing a convention on diplomatic relations held in Vienna from 2nd March to 14th April.

The Convention remains open for signature for a whole year. The United Kingdom delegation signed the Final Act recording the results of the Conference, but did not sign the Convention itself so as to give Her Majesty's Government a full opportunity before signature to consider the Convention in all its aspects.


Shipbuilding And Ship-Repairing, North-East Scotland


asked the Minister of Labour if he will institute an official inquiry into the cause of the present increasing unemployment in Scottish shipbuilding and ship-repairing yards in North-East Scotland; and if he will take steps to resolve the relevant problems.

The problems of the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry have recently been investigated by a special Sub-Committee of the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee. Most of the recommendations are addressed to the industry and deserve urgent consideration by both sides.

By-Product Plant, Durham (Closure)


asked the Minister of Labour what is the number of able-bodied men now unemployed as the result of the closure of the Langley Park by-product plant; and what plans he has for finding alternative work for these men, in view of the fact that this is the second such plant closure this year and the fourth in recent years in the Durham North-West constituency.

Ten; my local officers will continue to do all they can to find these workers other suitable employment.


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the total number of days work lost to industry in England and Wales through sickness in each year during the last twelve years.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food



asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which are the three beef breeds which, over the last five years, have had the greatest number of bulls licensed in England and Wales.

12,662 Hereford, 5,253 Aberdeen Angus and 2,114 Galloway bulls have been licensed in England and Wales over the last five years.



asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current price of milk sold to manufacturers; and how it com pares with the figure for the same time last year.

The prices at which the Milk Marketing Board sells milk to manufacturers vary widely according to the product. The latest month for which an average price is available is December, 1960, when it was 19·4d. a gallon, compared with 22d. a gallon in December, 1959.

Telephone Service



asked the Postmaster-General when sufficient lines to Basingstoke will be made available to prevent callers from London frequently receiving the junctions engaged signal on weekday mornings.

I am sorry about these difficulties. They are due to the unexpectedly heavy growth in traffic and the shortage of circuits to Basingstoke. We are examining the possibility of providing extra circuits and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Rumney (Waiting List)


asked the Post master-General what is the length of the waiting list for installations of telephones in Rumney, Cardiff; and when he expects to satisfy the demand.

There are seventy-one people waiting for telephones in Rumney, Cardiff. We expect to provide telephones for all of them by the end of the year.

Wireless And Television

Advertisements (Sound Volume)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will consult with the Independent Television Authority with a view to introducing regulations, under Section 4 (4) of the Television Act, 1954, to add to the provisions of the Second Schedule to the Act a rule prohibiting the increase of sound volume during commercial advertisements.

The Authority tells me that the level of sound is not increased during commercial advertisements: in fact the sound level of some individual advertisements is decreased. However, observation is kept on the overall noise effect of advertisements which in some cases may be due to the style of advertisement rather than to the sound itself. I do not consider it necessary to intervene.

Home Department

Northern Ireland (Firearms)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions after April, 1929, other than in the case of Mrs. Wills, he has refused compensation when presented with a receipt for firearms previously handed, by order, to the Royal Irish Constabulary for safe keeping.

The surviving records do not go back to 1929, but no other request for compensation has been received in recent years.

Prisons (Overcrowding)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has given to magistrates regarding the present overcrowding in prisons; and if he will consider using redundant Army, Navy and Air Force establishments as open prisons for selected short-term prisoners.

Information about overcrowding is included in the Prison Commissioners' annual reports, the booklet Prisons and Borstals, and the White Paper on Penal Practice in a Changing Society, and has been regularly given at the Annual Conference of members of Visiting Committees and Boards of Visitors held by the Magistrates' Association. Redundant Service premises are regularly notified to and inspected by the Prison Commissioners, who have already taken ten into use for various purposes. Nine other Service premises or sites are in process of conversion or development and three more are under consideration.

Mental Health Act, 1959 (Section 60)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offenders suffering from psychopathic disorder, not including sub-normality of intelligence, have been placed under guardianship and detained in hospital by court order under Section 60 of the Mental Health Act, 1959; and if he will name the local authorities and hospitals concerned.

I regret that I have not yet received complete information about the number of hospital or guardianship orders made since 31st December, 1960. During the period 1st November, 1960, to 31st December, 1960, no guardianship orders were made on the ground of psychopathic disorder. During the same period sixteen hospital orders were made on the ground either of psychopathic disorder alone or of psychopathic disorder combined with mental illness; although this figure excludes orders made on account of psychopathic disorder combined with subnormality, it may include some persons who are in fact of subnormal intelligence. The patients concerned were admitted to the following hospitals:

  • St. Lawrence Hospital, Bodmin.
  • St. John's Hospital, Stone, Bucks.
  • Digby-Wonford Hospital, Exeter.
  • Oakwood Hospital, Maidstone.
  • Bexley Hospital, Kent.
  • Lancaster Moor Hospital.
  • Roundway Hospital, Devizes.
  • Little Plumstead Hospital, Norwich.
  • Burghill Hospital, Hereford.
  • St. James' Hospital, Portsmouth.
  • Hollow Meadows Hospital, Sheffield.
  • Central Hospital, Warwick.
  • Brentry Hospital, Bristol.
  • Darenth Park Hospital, Dartford.
  • West Park Hospital, Epsom.
  • Rampton Hospital, Notts.

Point-To-Point Races (Deaths)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many male and female persons, respectively, have been killed while riding in point-to-point races in the last ten years.

Pensions And National Insurance

Sickness Benefit Claims (Investigations)

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what is the minimum period of benefit allowed before his Department requests the Ministry of Health to investigate claims for sickness benefit; and if he will list the ailments which are included in the code of guidance on the basis of which local officers decide which cases to investigate.

There is no fixed minimum period. Whether, and if so when, a regional medical officer of the Ministry of Health is asked for his opinion must depend on a number of factors, especially the nature and duration of the claimant's incapacity. I do not think it would be in the public interest for me to give any more specific indication of the arrangements, even if it were practicable—which it is not—to set them out in the way which the hon. Member suggests.

Graduated Pension Scheme (Women)

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will take steps to enable all women over the age of 60 years, who now have to pay contributions under the graduated pension scheme, and upon their retirement do not qualify for any benefits under that scheme, to have refunded the total amount of the contributions they have paid.

No. Under the National Insurance Act, 1959, graduated contributions amounting to less than a unit—which for a woman is £9—are dealt with by rounding to the nearest unit and not by way of refund.

Local Government

New Towns Act, 1946 (Section 11)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what has been the total amount paid in each financial year to

New Town Corporation1949–501950–511951–521952–531953–541954–55
Hemel Hempstead1,0001482,4833,7132,78520,411
New Town Corporation1955–561956–571957–581958–591959–60Total
Hemel Hempstead7,73516,4137,85026162,799

Use Classes Order (Indoor Games)

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister of Welsh Affairs whether he will amend the Town Planning (Use Classes Order), 1950, with a view to the use of premises for indoor games being taken out of Class XVIII and placed within a separate class to enable such uses to be controlled.

No. From a planning point of view, use for indoor games is similar in character to the other uses in Class XVIII.

each new town local authority under Section 11 of the New Towns Act, 1946.

The contributions by development corporations in England and Wales to the local authorities in their area in each year up to 31st March, 1960, are given in the table below. Particulars of the contributions made in 1960–61 are not yet available.


Monkland Canal, Glasgow (Drowning Accidents)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many drowning accidents have occurred in the Monk-land Canal, Glasgow, during the past three years; whether arrangements have yet been completed with Glasgow Corporation regarding filling it in; and when the work will commence.

During the years 1958 to 1960 there were five drowning accidents in the part of the Monkland Canal which is within Glasgow. There have been no accidents this year. I understand that Glasgow Corporation has not reached any decision about filling the canal in.

Ministry Of Works

House Of Commons Refreshment Department

asked the Minister of Works what structural improvements have been made in working conditions for staff in the House of Commons Refreshment Department during the last two years; and what was the cost.

The items of work and their cost are as follows:

Provision of changing room and rest room for dining room and cafeteria staff405
installation of lavatory basin in rest room for female staff of Press Gallery Dining Room114
Installation of lavatory basin in rest room for male staff of Press Gallery Dining Room183
Provision of rest room space for Tea Room staff35
Provision of new washing up facilities for Members' and Strangers' Cafeterias4,692

National Finance

Profits Tax (Co-Operative Societies)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated additional amount of Profits Tax that will have to be paid by Co-operative societies in a full year as a result of the increase in the rate from 127½ per cent. to 15 per cent.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total amount of Profits Tax paid by Co-operative societies in the financial year 1957–58; and what is the estimated total amount that will be paid in 1961–62.

Members' Fund (Grants)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement about increased provision for retired Members of Parliament and their widows.

Yes. Sir. Following representations from hon. Members that the maximum grant which can now be made from the Members' Fund is an insufficient provision for Members who retire after long service to the House and who have little or no other means, the Government have made a careful examination of possible changes in the existing arrangements, in consultation with the Trustees of the Members' Fund.The Government have considered afresh whether a pension scheme should be introduced. They have however come again to the conclusion that, apart from the difficult question of principle whether membership of the House of Commons should be regarded as a pensionable occupation, a scheme of pensions as of right would not be practicable owing above all to the uncertainty of the lengths of service of Members and their widely varying private circumstances. It is therefore their view that the right course is to increase the resources of the Members' Fund in order that its Trustees may be able to make larger grants to retired Members and their widows (or widowers), these grants being as at present discretionary and subject to an assessment of the other means of the beneficiary. The Government's view is that the Fund, which is in essence a benevolent fund and not a pensions fund, is an effective and well-tried instrument through which selective provision can be made for those Members who have been unable to make suitable provision for their retirement.They have therefore agreed with the Trustees of the Fund upon certain modifications in the present arrangements. The principal changes are (1) that while the basis of grant for retired Members over the age of 60 with at least 10 years' service continues to be not more than £500 as at present, the Trustees shall have power at their discretion to give grants of up to a maximum of £900 having regard to length of service and need; provision for widows and widowers being correspondingly increased; (2) that the annual subscription of Members will be raised from £18 to £24; (3) that an additional Exchequer contribution of £12,000 will be made to the Fund annually.The first two changes will require a detailed Resolution of the House which will be submitted shortly by the Chairman of the Fund. The Treasury contribution requires an order under Section 1 (3) of the House of Commons Members' Fund Act, 1957, which will be laid before the House soon.If the proposed Resolution is approved by the House it is proposed that the new scheme will come into operation on 1st June.