Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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

Royal Navy

Plymouth Training Squadron

3.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how many junior sea men and artificer apprentices have completed their training in ships of the Plymouth Training Squadron since the inception of the present scheme.

Since the scheme was started twelve months ago, 210 artificer apprentices, 787 junior seamen and 584 junior ratings of other branches have been given sea training in ships of the Plymouth Training Squadron. The apprentices are with the squadron for 15 weeks and the juniors for two weeks.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the sea-going training provided by Her Majesty's ships "Chaplet" and "Ulysses" has been invaluable in giving junior seamen and apprentices a very large measure of self-assurance and self-reliance so vital to the efficiency of the Navy? Is it the intention to continue this sea-going training even after the ships have been withdrawn from other duties?

I thoroughly endorse the value of sea-going training, especially in the early part of a young man's career, and sometimes during his training period. I am not in a position today to announce what will happen in the future. We are considering it, and we certainly understand the success of the scheme.

Dartmouth And Manadon Colleges

4.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the number of cadets under instruction as against each member of the teaching staff, proportionately, at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, respectively.

5.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what is the present ratio of teaching staff to students at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon.

Approximately 1 to 5½ at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and 1 to 3 at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon. The ratios are based on an average figure for staff and students in the current financial year. The teaching staff include all the General List and Instructor officers, civilian lecturers, ratings, and skilled non-industrial employees, who take part in the wide variety of academic, professional, seamanship and other practical instruction at the two colleges.

Are not the figures my hon. Friend has just given rather different from what was said by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) in his speech on the Budget?

I am afraid that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) was completely erroneous. His figures were 550 per cent. out.

In view of my hon. Friend's reply, and referring to column 983 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for 18th April, I presume that the other remarks about admiral-warship coefficient were equally inaccurate?

Should not even Socialist Privy Councillors check their facts before holding themselves up to ridicule by making stupid and assinine statements?

On a point of order. May I ask if it is not the usual custom for notice to be given when matters of this kind are raised? May I ask if notice has been given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson)?

The hon. Member cannot ask me if notice was given, because I would not know anyhow. The other matter he raised is not, I think, one for the Chair.

Further to that point of order. Did the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) give notice to those interested in Navy matters that he was going to raise this question in his original Budget speech?

That has no appearance of being a matter for the Chair. Do not let us waste time on matters which are not points of order.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I ask in exactly what way the Minister now answering Questions becomes responsible for statements made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) so that he may be asked questions about what my right hon. Friend said?

I think the Minister might be asked about the substance of the matter to which the statements are alleged to be related.

When we hear comments in percentages we are always a little inclined to wonder what percentage of what. Are not the figures which the hon. Member has given us surprising enough in themselves? They reveal ratios of 5½ to 1 and 3 to 1. What is the ratio in other schools run by the Government? Is it not nearer 30 to 1?

There is a later Question on this very issue. The teaching staff-student ratio at Dartmouth does not compare unfavourably, on the information available to us, with other colleges within the Services and outside them. I have checked this point as carefully as I can, and they are about the same.

6.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what steps he is taking to reduce the cost per student at Dartmouth and Manadon.

We have announced that we are concentrating officer training at Dartmouth, and this will lead to more economic use of staff and facilities. We are building up the numbers of cadets under training at Manadon from 224 to 460: this development should reduce the training cost markedly.

As I told the House on 14th February, my Finance Committee has called for detailed costings at many training establishments in order to see what administrative savings can be achieved without reducing the high standard required. Dartmouth and Manadon are both included in this review.

I fully realise that it is exceedingly difficult to have the ordinary staff-student ratio in these cases, but is this not a ludicrously high staff ratio? Instead of spending time on criticising my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), would it not be better to see if something can be done to alter these very extraordinary figures?

I said in my original Answer that we are not complacent about them. We are reviewing them. I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it was the same ratio when he was in my job in 1950.

Is the Civil Lord aware that I took very great care to look this up? He is incorrect. It is not the same. The figures now are 490 staff to 478 students, as against 414 staff to 542 students when I was there.

I can also give the figures, but perhaps it would be better if the right hon. Gentleman and I compared notes outside the Chamber. In early 1950 there were 460 students under training at Dartmouth and just over 400 naval and civilian staff, so the ratio is very much the same as it is today.

8.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if the pay scales of lecturers at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, are now related to the scientific officer class; and if he will make a statement.

Since 1956, the salary scales of lecturers at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, have been related to the scientific officer class. This relationship has recently been under review. The review is not yet complete but in the meantime the lecturers will be given an interim increase in salary similar to that awarded to the scientific officer class.

Is my hon. Friend aware that his Answer will give great satisfaction to those concerned and will help to reduce any friction caused by his Answer to Question No. 6, because we want as efficient an establishment as possible?

Royal Marines Barracks, Plymouth

7.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement concerning future arrangements for the Royal Marines Barracks, Stonehouse, Plymouth.

We are considering whether to modernise the Royal Marines Barracks at Stonehouse in order to provide accommodation which could be used in the Admiralty's plans for re-deployment of the Royal Marine Commandos.

Is it possible to speed this up? It has been going on for about two years. The buildings are very fine, but they are detriorating considerably. We should have the Royal Marines back again in Plymouth, which has been their home for many generations.

I acknowledge the value and dignity of the buildings. We hope to preserve the historic and architectural features. This modernisation is a very big undertaking and we cannot go ahead with it until plans are more detailed and finalised than they are at the moment.

Research And Development Contracts

9 and 10.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty (1) how many research and development contracts are at present being fulfilled in Scotland by private firms, research associations, and universities, respectively;

(2) what proportion of the estimated sum to be spent on research and development contracts by his Department during the current financial year will be spent in Scotland.

Thirty-nine naval research and development contracts have been placed with private firms and one with a university. In addition, two contracts have been placed with the National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride. The estimated sum to be spent on research and development contracts in Scotland is about 15 per cent. of the total naval expenditure for this kind of work.

Will the Civil Lord draw these figures to the attention of his colleagues in the Government and see whether they can do as well as the Admiralty does in respect of Scotland?

School Leavers (Recruitment)

11.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether he will expand the intake of recruits straight from school in order to take advantage of the increased number of school leavers.

The bulk of the recruits already enter the Royal Navy straight from school. Juniors (U), all of whom come straight from school, are recruited between the ages of 15 and 16¼ Juniors (O), some of whom come straight from school, between 16¼ and 17½. We aim in particular to accept an additional 500 Juniors (U) this year which will raise the entry to 2,600.

Does my hon. Friend agree that this indicates an encouraging future for naval recruiting? Does he agree also that any increase in recruiting into the Services at the moment is to be welcomed?

Yes. It is extremely encouraging, particularly in regard to juniors, who turn out to be first-rate boys and of great value to the Navy during their service.

Control Artificer (Weapons)

12.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether, in view of the increased complexity of control mechanisms for weapons, he proposes to introduce a greater degree of specialisation in the artificer branches.

Yes, Sir. We are about to introduce a new category of artificer to be known as control artificer (weapons). They will gradually take over the electronic and light mechanical engineering duties on weapons and control systems now done by electrical and ordnance artificers.

Does my hon. Friend agree that this will improve efficiency and the career structure of these artificer ratings and eventually their prospects of skilled employment outside the Service?

Yes, I think it will. It is a higher degree of specialisation in a very specialist field. The training we give them is absolutely first-rate and serves the Navy extremely well.

Are these artificers to get any different wages or promotion than other artificers?

Hms "Leopard" (Visit To Angola)

13.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what is the purpose of the good will visit of H.M.S. "Leopard" to Angola.

As I explained on 15th May, the ship was making its 4,000 mile return journey from Sierra Leone to Simonstown and paid a routine visit to this and other ports.

Is the Civil Lord aware that the incredible stupidity of arranging a so-called good will visit of this kind to Angola has resulted in a great sense of shock among the newly independent countries, but not alone among them? There has been a sense of surprise also in Brazil and, indeed, among the Portuguese themselves. Will the hon. Gentleman take this opportunity of making clear that there is no question of this visit in any way endorsing the repressive colonialist régime?

I made my views clear in answer to the Private Notice Question on this issue on Monday. I cannot endorse the supplementary question asked by the hon. Gentleman. This is one of 800 routine visits which Her Majesty's ships have made in the last four months to different ports in the world. It would have proceeded quite satisfactorily if it had not been made a political issue by hon. Members opposite.

Is it not also a traditional duty of the Royal Navy to visit places where there are outbreaks of rebellion or troubles? [Laughter.] I cannot understand why hon. Members are laughing. Is it not traditional that the Navy should visit such places in order to see that British nationals are looked after properly and also to bring information back to this country, of which we have very little?

The Civil Lord used the word "paid". Does that mean that the visit is now over? If it is over, is he aware that that will be very welcome news indeed? Is it convenient for any of Her Majesty's ships to choose this particular moment for a visit to Seoul?

I used the word "paid", perhaps inadvertently. The ship arrived there at 08.00 hours on Monday and is due to leave tomorrow, so the visit is still continuing. I have another Question on this.

Have not all of us great good will towards the people of Angola and deep sympathy with all those, black or white, who have suffered so atrociously since the abominable invasion of Angola from across the Congo border.

The hon. Gentleman said in reply to Questions the other day on this matter that this had been cleared with the Foreign Office. If this ship was proceeding from Simonstown to some other port, how was the matter cleared with the Foreign Office?

It was cleared at the Foreign Office because we perfectly well understood the anxiety concerning Angola. There is another Question to be answered later on this matter and I would prefer to wait until it is reached before making any further comment.

14.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what is the complement of H.M.S. "Leopard"; how many ratings and officers will be allowed shore leave in Luanda during the good will visit; and what steps he is taking to protect them from disturbances, in view of the dangerous situation in Angola.

The complement of H.M.S. "Leopard" is 13 officers and 184 ratings. Shore leave is being allowed. Admiral Copeman, who is in the ship, sent me a signal this morning reporting that Luanda was absolutely quiet and that everything in the city was normal.

Can the Civil Lord say what reports were available on conditions in Luanda when arrangements for this good will trip were made? From the reports which have appeared in The Times and elsewhere, it would seem that the position in Luanda was far from secure a short time ago.

We have a consul in Luanda and the Foreign Office were consulted and, presumably, they got their information from our consul in Luanda. Therefore, the situation was quiet then and it was quiet as of this morning, when I received the signal. Perhaps the Press reports to which the hon. Gentleman referred were somewhat exaggerated.

15.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether he authorised the good will visit to Luanda now being paid by H.M.S. "Leopard".

The visit was authorised, after consultation with the Foreign Office, in the normal way.

In view of the Admiralty's ineptitude in having this visit—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—will the Civil Lord now assure the House that after H.M.S. "Leopard" has spent a few days in Simonstown it is not proposed to visit Mozambique, where Africans are also being murdered and imprisoned in large numbers?

This Question asks who authorised this visit. My noble Friend authorised the visit and takes full responsibility for it.

When H.M.S. "Leopard" returns to port in this country, will my right hon. Friend provide transport to enable the officers and ratings of that vessel to come to the House of Commons in order to leave green cards for hon. Gentlemen opposite?

I am sure that the Civil Lord would not deliberately mislead the House. Can he state, specifically and categorically, on which date the Foreign Office cleared the proposal, by the Admiralty presumably, that this vessel should visit Angola?

We have been in consultation with the Foreign Office over a period of weeks, the last occasion being on Wednesday of last week.

Apprentices, Rosyth

16.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether he is satisfied that, in view of the large number of candidates applying for admission to apprentice training at Rosyth, the maximum possible intake is being admitted.

The number of apprentices approved for entry at Rosyth in 1961 is 146. This represents an increase of over 50 per cent. over the 1960 intake, and more than 100 per cent. increase compared with 1959.

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, might I inform him that when I last visited this apprentice centre I found that the excellent facilities that are provided are being considerably under-utilised. Will the Civil Lord bear in mind that this is an area of high juvenile unemployment and what action is he taking to maintain the right level of intake.

I look as sympathetically as I possibly can at this subject, but I have to pay attention to the vacancies which will eventually exist for them when they become craftsmen. I realise the point that the hon. Gentleman is making and hope that the publicity of this Question will help to recruit even more people for these vacancies.

Can the Civil Lord assure hon. Members that there is no danger of the payroll tax which the Government are imposing having the effect of reducing the number of apprentices?

British Army

Warrant Officer L N Taylor

17.

asked the Secretary of State for War for what reason Warrant Officer L. N. Taylor, Royal Army Pay Corps, was discharged from the Army after 24 years' service although he had a contract to remain for a further three years; and, in view of the fact that no satisfactory explanation has been given for his discharge, whether he will make a statement.

Warrant Officer Taylor was discharged in 1958 on termination of engagement. The undertaking that he signed in 1946 to re-enlist on a 3-year Supplemental Service did not constitute a contract binding either party; and specifically his re-enlistment was subject to his being recommended at the end of his existing engagement. Although Warrant Officer Taylor had given good service in the past, I am satisfied that there are no grounds for changing my predecessor's decision not to recommend him for this further period of employment.

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for that reply and for his investigations into this matter. Can he say whether Warrant Officer Taylor appealed against the decision, and whether the decision was endorsed by the Army Council?

He did not, in fact, appeal, but, as is customary, he saw the confidential report on which basis it was decided not to recommend him and, although he could have appealed, he did not do so at the time. I do not say that that made any difference, but it answers the right hon. Gentleman's question.

Civilian Employees, County Tyrone

18.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many civilians are employed by his department in County Tyrone; and how this compares with other years.

Commonwealth Recruiting

19.

asked the Secretary of State for War what conclusions he has now reached in his review of possible recruiting in the Commonwealth for regiments of the British Army.

As I explained to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in answer to a Question on 15th March, I cannot well introduce direct recruiting to the British Army in the Commonwealth, since most of those countries have their own military manpower problems.

Since West Indians, in particular, pride themselves in sharing the British way of life and since they integrate easily with other Service men—and that has been proven many times—will the Secretary of State give an assurance that from time to time, when he is short of, say, a batch of transport drivers or nursing orderlies, he will recruit fifty or one hundred of them in an area like Jamaica, where many men like to serve in those capacities.

I will most certainly consider the potentialities of recruitment from this source.

When the Secretary of State says that they have their own manpower problems, is he basing himself on talks with Commonwealth countries? If so, what talks are these?

I was not referring to what, I think, the hon. Gentleman has in mind—which is the Caribbean—but countries which I regard as free Commonwealth countries, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, have in their own armed forces problems of recruiting. It would be wrong, therefore, for us to set up recruiting stations there and pinch their manpower.

1St Grenadier Guards (Strength)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for War if the 1st Grenadier Guards will be at full strength when the battalion relieves the King's Own Royal Border Regiment in the Cameroons.

The battalion will be at a strength of just over 700 all ranks, which I am satisfied is adequate for its task.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that the 1st Grenadier Guards and all regiments of the Brigade of Guards will be up to strength in both men and equipment so that they will be able to undertake, at any moment, the tasks normally given to an infantry battalion in a combatant rôle?

I think that is a wider question. Since I know that my hon. Friend takes a keen interest in this, I would not like to give him a snap answer. Perhaps he would put down a further Question on that point. What matters is that the battalion concerned is built up to strength, I think that possibly my hon. Friend has been misled by reports concerning the 540 men who sailed. That figure represented the main party. The advance party had gone on before.

Gurkhas (Pay And Allowances)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the pay and allowances of Gurkha soldiers serving in the British Army in this country; and how they compare with those of similar rank in other British regiments.

As Gurkha forces have not before been regularly stationed in this country, I cannot give the comparison which the hon. Member asks. The question of allowances is at present under consideration.

In so far as we can follow the figures in the Army Estimates, is it the case that for the gunner, the sapper, the private and other similar ranks, the pay of the Gurkha soldier runs at about 5s. a day, whereas British soldiers of similar rank receive a minimum of 15s. per day, and some as much as 24s. 6d. per day? Are those figures reasonably correct? Can the hon. Gentleman also say why it is that we still have to pay awards to individuals who manage to get Gurkhas recruited into the Brigade of Gurkhas?

I do not fully understand the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. If he is hinting, as he said to my hon. Friend last week, that we are paying subventions to the Nepalese Government in order to get Gurkha soldiers, I will not endorse that but wholeheartedly reject it. I think I know what is behind the hon. Gentleman's question. The Gurkhas get a different basic rate of pay to the British soldier—they are all in the Royal Warrant if hon. Members wish to study them—but this is by agreement with the Nepalese Government and the Indian Government, because the Indians recruit Gurkhas as well. What matters are the allowances we pay. I can set the hon. Gentleman's mind at rest by telling him that when Gurkhas come to this country it is my intention to see that their total emoluments are in line with our costs of living and with our standards.

May I respond to the right hon. Gentleman and repeat the second part of my supplementary question? I was asking in the second part of my supplementary question why we need to have, as is shown in the Estimates, a system of paying awards to those persons or groups who get Gurkhas to join the Brigade of Gurkhas.

I am afraid this is a bit too deep for me. The hon. Gentleman had better put down that Question again.

Recruits (Discharge And Wastage)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of recruits was discharged on medical grounds during the last two quarters of 1960 and the first quarter of 1961.

27.

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to improve the medical examination of recruits, in view of the fact that about 16 per cent. of those enlisted in 1959 have already been discharged on medical grounds.

The percentage of recruits discharged on medical grounds during the last two quarters of 1960 and the first quarter of 1961 are 3·6 per cent., 5·5 per cent., and 2·9 per cent., respectively. The percentage of those enlisted in 1959 who have since been discharged on medical grounds is about 96 per cent.—not 16 per cent. We are talking here about men who have left the Service over a period of more than two years. The annual rate is about 4 per cent. of intake.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this pressure to get recruits puts a great temptation on recruiting offices to accept recruits without the same discrimination as heretofore? Will he give an assurance that there will be no lowering of the medical and intelligence standards required in recruits?

I can certainly give that latter undertaking, and I hope the House will take heart from the fact that although the recruiting campaign is beginning to speed up and we are getting more people into the Army, nonetheless there were only 2·9 per cent. discharged on medical grounds in the last quarter. This shows that we are gaining on the problem.

If I were increasing the number of people who come into the Army and the standards were lower, would not the hon. Gentleman expect to find that the number of people who are being "hoofed out" on medical grounds was lower and not higher?

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the figure in Question No. 27 is based on an answer which was given last week? If the corrected figure is 9½ per cent. of those who enlisted in 1959, surely this is still too much and some steps ought to be taken to correct it?

Last week my hon. Friend quoted not 16 per cent., but 14 per cent. He said that 14 per cent. were accounted for on medical grounds and other reasons. My answer here refers only to medical grounds. Of course, we will do all we can to watch the matter very carefully, but I take heart from the fact that the figure is going down steadily.

26.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has carried out an investigation as to why about 9 per cent. of recruits enlisted in 1959 have bought themselves out; and what steps he is taking to remedy this wastage of volunteers, who are urgently needed by the Army.

As I said in the Estimates debate, and as my hon. Friend reminded the House only last week, the Army Operational Research Group is making an extensive study on the question of wastage.

Are not these figures rather high? Is my right hon. Friend taking fully into account the Report of the Resettlement Board? Is it not possible that there is anxiety about a second career after these men leave the Army, and can my right hon. Friend say how the figures compare with those in the other two Services?

I cannot give a comparison with the figures in the other two Services. I am taking this matter very seriously indeed, and we are improving the situation by degrees. We are devising ways and means to try to introduce to the Army people from civilian life in a modern and contemporary way.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that while there may be a wastage in this respect in the Army, it is no greater than in industry in general? Does he not believe that so long as we have a free society, nothing should be done to prevent men having this facility?

I have not said that we would do anything to prevent the men having this facility, but I should like the situation in the Army to be close to that in industry, and when it is I shall be satisfied.

Television Recruiting Campaign

23.

asked the Secretary of State for War what have been the results of his television recruiting campaign.

I have nothing to add to the answer which my hon. Friend gave the House only last week.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say in general whether the response has been satisfactory? He will recall that in the debate on the Estimates he stated that recruiting had been improved by 18 per cent. during the experimental period of television broadcasting. Can he say anything about the results now that the full campaign is in operation?

I am not trying to conceal anything. I am encouraged by what is happening in the television campaign, but I am loath to give the House figures until they mean something. As the House will know, there has to be a hang-over period after the end of the television campaign before we can assess the number of people who have come in after it has ended. The first slice of the national campaign on television is only now beginning to come to an end, and I shall require a month in which to get all the letters in. I hope that by the middle of June I shall get some figures which may mean something to the House, and if they are interesting I shall tell the House at once. Meanwhile, I am encouraged by the 20 per cent. increase which occurred in the north of England where we were able to assess the number of people who were recruited in that part of the country through television advertising.

Army Cadet Force, Denaby

24.

asked the Secretary of State for War, if he will take action to prevent the disbanding of the Army Cadet Force at Denaby Main in the Dearne Valley constituency.

No, Sir. It proved uneconomical to maintain this unit as a separate detachment, and I support the County Cadet Commandant's decision.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the village of Denaby there is great enthusiam for this Army Cadet Force? Does he believe that these boys, if they should happen to parade towards Buckingham Palace this coming Saturday, should be labelled "the forty thieves"? Will he reconsider his decision? Will he consult the Civil Lord of the Admiralty who seems to be very interested in recruiting young boys, and make certain that the Army obtains its full strength through boys of this kind joining the forces in later life?

I cannot reconsider this matter. I have given it the most careful consideration. I am happy to say that those who are still keen to work—and I am very interested in the work of the cadets—can attend parades at Mexborough which, I am told, is only three miles away. Therefore, they will still have a chance of recruiting themselves to the service of the country. I have only a certain amount of money which I am able to spend on this organisation, and I must judge it, as my predecessors have, by those units which are efficient. While I do not want to weary the House with a lot of details, this particular unit had over a period of time been very inefficient indeed. However, I hope that those who still want to work will do so through the Mexborough camp.

Royal Palaces (Soldiers)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for War from which regiments the 11 soldiers currently employed at Royal Palaces are drawn; how long they have so served; how many are National Service personnel; and who pays them.

The eleven soldiers now employed in Royal Households are all Regular soldiers of the Household Brigade. They have been so employed for periods varying from one year to thirty years and are paid by my Department.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it ludicrous that at a time when there are complaints in all quarters of the House from all shades of opinion about the shortage of recruits, this kind of man should be engaged on menial tasks in Royal Households? Can the right hon. Gentleman give any sound reason why these men should not be recruited through the normal channels of the employment exchanges?

Yes, Sir, I can. I think there is nothing ludicrous about this at all. They are all volunteers, and all but three of them are employed in clerical jobs. It is the remaining three who are employed as personal orderlies. As the hon. Gentleman will probably know,—and so that I can help the tongue-waggers' club—every officer above the rank of field officer is entitled to a batman or an orderly or the equivalent, and why we should make exceptions for the Sovereign and two Royal field marshals I cannot imagine.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there was a good deal of public concern about a fortnight ago when a request was made to a certain regiment for a servant and the suggestion was turned down by the commanding officer with, I think, considerable unease on his part? Can the right hon. Gentleman not undertake to improve public relations to the extent that this kind of thing is not given the sort of publicity which was given to it?

If the hon. Gentleman really meant what he was saying, he would not try to add insult to injury.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the right hon. Gentleman chooses to hurl that kind of accusation across the House, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Trooping The Colour (Television Broadcast)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for War, in view of the fact that the Trooping the Colour ceremony is to be televised to Russia, what modifications are being made in the arrangements.

In view of the fainting incidents in recent years, will the right hon. Gentleman give a special instruction that the men should not be called upon to stand to attention for too long? If more fainting takes place on a television programme, it will cause a disagreeable impression. Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider introducing a civilian element into the parade and call upon the trade unionists to march along with their banners in order to give the Russians an idea of our democratic way of life?

I do not think that anything could give the Russians a better idea of our democratic way of life than to have a look at the Queen on her birthday surrounded by some of the most valiant troops in the world.

Royal Air Force

Book (Departmental Letter)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Air why a letter written by his Department to Mr. Richard Collier on 28th March, 1961, formally expressed disapproval of Mr. Collier's treatment of the subject in his book, "The Sands of Dunkirk", despite the fact that there was nothing in the book to which objection could be taken on security grounds.

Mr. Collier had enjoyed certain official facilities from the Air Ministry and submitted his text to us. In giving it clearance from a security point of view, my Department thought it right to dissociate themselves formally from a number of disparaging references to the conduct and discipline of the British Army at Dunkirk. I think it was fully justified in doing so.

Even if the Air Ministry regarded Mr. Collier's treatment of the subject as undesirable, which, having read the book, I would not accept for a moment, is it reasonable that the Air Ministry, in a formal letter, using the most portentous language, should express opinions about a matter which is not the concern of the right hon. Gentleman's Department? Does the Ministry think it proper to set itself up as an unofficial literary censor?

There is no question of censorship about this, but it was our duty, both to Mr. Collier and in loyalty to the War Office, to point out what we thought were disparaging and unbalanced remarks.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am speaking of matters necessarily not of fact but of opinion and that his Department thought it right to censor in the most officious language those expressions of view? Will he give an assurance that this will not be done in future and that the mechanism of submitting manuscripts for security clearance will not be used for entirely different purposes?

No, Sir. It is our duty to express opinions, particularly in matters which engage our responsibility. As we gave clearance to the book, we were also quite right to point out that we thought that it contained inaccuracies and gave an unbalanced picture. In no way was this an attempt to censor the book or to stop Mr. Collier publishing it. It was our duty to point out to him that we thought that it was unbalanced.

Although hon. Members on both sides of the House appreciate the versatility and literary abilities of the Air Ministry personnel, is it not most improper for the Ministry to enter the field of literary criticism in this manner?

I do not think so at all. I think that this is an example of good co-operation with the War Office.

Security

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will give an assurance that satisfactory measures have been taken to strengthen security arrangements in the Royal Air Force, having regard to the recent disclosures of pro longed and successful espionage in the Foreign Office and the Royal Navy.

Security arrangements in the Air Ministry and the Royal Air Force are of course, examined regularly, but I have recently ordered a further Departmental review.

While we are obviously glad to hear the Secretary of State's reassurance, in view of the gravity of the situation, may I ask him whether he will assure the House that two elementary precautions have been taken? First, has there been a security check on the past hisory of all personnel who have access to secret information? Secondly, has there been a recent investigation into the adequacy of security measures to prevent unauthorised persons from having access to secret information and secret equipment?

I think that both points will be covered by the further review for which I have asked, but I should not like to give the hon. Gentleman a formal affirmative answer off the cuff. If he wants further information, perhaps he will table another Question.

Married Quarters

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Air why, as from 1st July, 1961, the system of allocating married quarters to Royal Air Force personnel will be changed.

Since the end of the war the allocation of married quarters has been decided largely by the family circumstances of the officer or airman concerned. Under the new system family commitments will still be given weight, but with the change-over to an all-regular force we think it right to place the main emphasis on Service responsibilities as reflected in length of service and rank.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman been informed that many airmen bitterly resent the fact that con- siderations of rank are to be introduced into the system for the allocation of married quarters? Is he aware that many airmen, having signed on for extended service in the belief that under the present system they would obtain justice, now deeply regret having done so? Will the right hon. Gentleman scrap this system and formulate a new one which will give justice to these men without consideration of rank?

I have visited fairly extensively Air Force stations in this country and in Germany. I have heard the pros and cons of the new system debated. I should have thought that, on the whole, opinion was in favour of the new system. That is the impression that I have derived. I think that the hon. Gentleman must realise, and will agree with me, that conditions as well as pay form part of the material rewards of a Service and that it is right that housing should be allocated to some extent in terms of length of service and rank as well as the size of families.

Is it not a fact that, with more weight now being given to rank rather than to family commitments, airmen who are in trades where promotion is slow will be unfairly penalised?

No, I do not think so, because length of service could be just as important as rank, and a man will keep ahead of people with shorter service in his own rank and may even remain ahead of men with less service who have reached a higher rank.

Thor Missile Sites

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps he is taking to render the Thor missile sites less vulnerable to missile attack.

Is it not the case that as they are at present the Thor missiles could all be destroyed within a few minutes of the outbreak of hostilities unless special attempts are made to harden them? Does the Secretary of State appreciate that these Thor missiles can be no more than a provocation? They are not really an effective instrument of deterrence? Are they not obsolete, and has not the time come to get rid of them or to give them some other use?

No, Sir. We are convinced at present that the threat is still predominantly from manned bombers and that the Thor missile still presents a serious deterrent.

Ministry Of Defence

Citizen Force Units, South Africa

33.

asked the Minister of Defence whether the citizen force units of the Union of South Africa will remain affiliated with British Army units after South Africa becomes a Republic; and what co-operation this involves.

This is one of the issues that arise from South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth that is not yet resolved.

Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to the statement by the Minister of Defence of the Union Government in the South African Parliament that the citizen forces of the Union are to remain affiliated to the British Army? Does the Minister repudiate that statement? Does not he think that it would be very bad that our Forces should be used in conjunction with citizen forces for the supression of the African people's protest against apartheid?

The hon. Gentleman has the wrong view. Perhaps I can put it right. These are associations formed in very honourable circumstances, mainly as a result of being comrades in a war. They are in no sense an operational tie. They in no sense bind British units to do other than have this association with their South African opposite numbers, which is nothing to do with operations or anything else. It is an honourable association coming from two world wars and one which I should be very reluctant to break without some very serious thought.

Polaris Missile

34.

asked the Minister of Defence if he is aware that eight out of 18 underwater tests of the Polaris missile have now failed; and, in view of this fact, if there is now to be any revision of plans for the Polaris base in Great Britain.

I have seen certain Press reports to which the hon. Member is no doubt referring. The answer to the second part of his Question is, No, Sir.

Does the Minister accept as correct the statement by an American Navy spokesman on 14th April that eight out of 18 such tests were failures?

I am not responsible for what American Navy spokesmen say, but I would comment in this way. It would not be at all surprising that in the test programme of a new missile a certain number of failures occurred.

Would my right hon. Friend agree that we should welcome very much the concern of the hon. Gentleman about the maximum possible efficiency in the defence forces of this country and the West?

Is not ten successes out of 18 in the initial programme of a rocket very satisfactory indeed and in fact far above average, certainly in the American ones which we know and, more than probably, in the Russian ones which we do not know?

Nato Forces (Polaris Submarines')

35.

asked the Minister of Defence whether Her Majesty's Government will oppose the acceptance of the offer of the United States Government of Polaris nuclear weapons for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

I take it that my noble Friend is referring to the offer by the United States Government to commit five Polaris submarines to the 6th Fleet which is earmarked for assignment to N.A.T.O. Details of this plan are being considered by N.A.T.O., but Her Majesty's Government welcome the objectives of the United States' proposals.

How does my right hon. Friend reconcile this last statement with the statement he made in the defence debate on 27th February, when he said:

"We do not see any advantage in setting up N.A.T.O. as a strategic nuclear Power; nor, I understand, does General Norstad."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1961; Vol. 635, c. 1204.]
Will the Government stick firmly to that position, and if they are to change their point of view on this, will he consult the House before doing so?

I quite agree with my hon. Friend. The difference is this. These Polaris submarines are merely a part of the American 6th Fleet, which is only assigned to General Norstad in certain special circumstances and does not come under his command in normal times.

Transport

Safety Belts And Harnesses

37.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now institute a publicity campaign by his Department to encourage car drivers to wear safety belts and harnesses.

I inaugurated a publicity campaign on 21st July last, when the British Standard was published. As recently as 27th April, I said in answer to a Question that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders had agreed to recommend types of harness which suited their vehicles and to supply complete kits and fitting instructions. The exchange of letters between the President of the Society and myself was published. I shall continue to give my fullest support to every effort to encourage the fitting and use of effective harness.

As part of that campaign, will the Minister take steps to warn the public about unofficial bodies like the so-called British Safety Council, which are misleading the public about the qualities of safety belts?

I have said before and say again that the public ought not to buy a safety belt unless it bears the mark of the British Standards Institution on it.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is not only a question of the mark on the belt but of how the belt is fitted into the car? Is he aware that I myself have a belt which is emblazoned with a fine mark on it, but the belt is quite unwearable because it was not properly anchored?

Knowing my hon. Friend's sagacity, I am astonished that he has not seen to the anchorage. His folly is a warning to the nation that people should look at the anchorage as well as at the belt.

Motor Vehicles (Air Pollution)

39.

asked the Minister of Transport what further progress has been made with the development of a smoke meter suitable for measuring fumes from diesel and petrol driven motor vehicles.

I have nothing at present to add to the Answer I gave the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson) on 19th April.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is a very disappointing answer? Has not the Minister seen the statement of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, reported yesterday, that smoke and dirt in the air killed 50,000 people last year—30,000 from chronic bronchitis and 20,000 from cancer of the lung—and that 20 million working days were lost by dirty air? Is it not time that he took steps to do something about this problem of air pollution from motor vehicles? How is he getting on with his investigation of the two smoke meters—the Hartridge and the Dunedin—at which he has been looking? If he insists that smoke meters are really necessary in order to enable police officers or any other intelligent witnesses to determine whether or not a motor vehicle is polluting the air, which we do not think is necessary, will he assure the House that he will reach a decision in the near future?

The difficulty is to get a meter which will register the amount of smoke in the air in order to make for effective enforcement? No country in the world has yet succeeded in doing that, but the Warren Springs Laboratory of the D.S.I.R. is assisting me in developing a meter that will meet certain criteria.

40.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now amend regulations 21 and 79 of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, 1955, in order to deal with the growing danger and nuisance caused by fumes from vehicles with diesel engines.

I expect to make and lay before the House shortly regulations to supplement these provisions by requiring the excess fuel device to be so placed that it cannot be used while the vehicle is in motion and making it an offence to have the device in operation while the vehicle is in motion.

The Minister will be aware that that answer will give a great deal of satisfaction to a number of people who have been worried about the problem for some time.

Roads

South Wales Motorway

41.

asked the Minister of Transport what are his plans for improving the A.40 road to South Wales.

The South Wales Motorway is planned as the major artery between London and South Wales. However, substantial improvements have been and are being carried out on the A.40 and others are planned—notably the High Wycombe by-pass.

As my right hon. Friend has been to the by-pass at High Wycombe on this road, he must give it considerable priority in his mind. Will he have a look at the other towns and bottlenecks on that road which are causing considerable restraint, and, in particular, try to expedite the by-pass at Northleach, which is the worst bottleneck further to the west?

I will look at that particular case, but I am quite certain that when the motorway is built it will relieve this road in the same way that M.1 relieved A.5.

Can the Minister say what degree of priority is being given to expediting motorway No. 2? Can he tell us whether he is able to hurry up operations on that dangerous part of the motorway between Chepstow and Gloucester, to which his attention has been drawn in correspondence?

I cannot answer the second half of the Question without notice. On the first part, we shall shortly let the viaduct over the Great West Road, which will form the first part of the extension from the Chiswick fly-over.

Imber, Wiltshire

42.

asked the Minister of Transport when a public inquiry is to be held into the proposals to close public roads and rights of way in the area occupied by the Army at Imber, Wiltshire.

Progress has been made towards the satisfactory settlement of a number of the objections to the proposed order which I hope to refer to the War Works Commission before the end of June. It will then be for the Commission to fix the date of any inquiry they decide to hold.

The Minister will be aware that in the whole of Wiltshire and throughout the country there is very great anxiety about this whole problem of Imber. Apart from the arrangements which he is making about an inquiry, will he have a talk with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War and those immediately concerned in the Government to see whether the whole question cannot be looked at again?

We are trying to meet the objections. Fifteen objections were received during the objection period of three months. I think we shall go some way to meeting the majority of those objections. Then it is up to me to send the case to my right hon. Friend, when the War Works Commission will be holding an inquiry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the hon. Member for Westbury has had talks with his right hon. Friend on this subject and that I think matters are progressing satisfactorily?

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I am sure that is so, because he has from the beginning taken a great interest in this question.

Double White Line System

43.

asked the Minister of Transport what have been the results, to date, of the operation of the double white line system and its restriction on overtaking; and if he will make a statement.

From the information so far available, it is not possible to say, with any certainty, what effect the double white line system has had on the accident rate. The Road Research Laboratory is making a survey of the behaviour of drivers on roads marked with double white lines: I hope to have its report shortly.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has had any police reports on the degree to which it is observed?

We have had certain reports, but the difficulty, from what I have received, is that these are not comprehensive enough upon which to come to a decision. I should prefer to wait until the reports are complete.

SCHEMES IN THE ROAD PROGRAMME IN WALES COSTING OVER £100,000 STARTED IN 1960
Estimated CostWork StartedCompletion Date

Trunk Roads

£
A.465 Heads of the Valleys Road. Stage I—Brynmawr to Abergavenny1,500,000March, 1960December, 1962
A.148 Port Talbot By-Pass. Stage I—Briton Ferry to Baglan475,000July, 1960September, 1961
A.494 Queensferry By-Pass832,000July, 1960July, 1961

Classified Roads

A.483 Swansea East side Approach Road: Section 5—Fabian Street420,000September, 1960April, 1962
Section 6—York Street to existing New Cut Bridge618,000October, 1960March, 1963

Shipping

Dry Docks (Capacity)

47.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that there are several vessels of 77,000 tons now under construction with a beam of 113 feet; how many dry docks in this country are capable of accommodating these vessels when they require under-water repairs; and what steps are being taken to provide repairing facilities for them.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport
(Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett)

Yes, Sir. There are at

line ends there is a notice which says "You May Now Pass"? Does he not think such notices are rather misleading?

If the hon. Lady will tell me which road she has in mind, I will look at those particular circumstances.

Road Schemes, Wales

44.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will issue a list of schemes in the road programme in Wales, costing more than £100,000, which were started in 1960, with the estimated completion date and total cost of each.

Yes, Sir. As the list contains detailed information, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the list—

present four dry docks in this country which can accommodate ships of this size. Two more are expected to be completed this year, and work on yet another is expected to start this summer. This programme should for the time being be adequate.

Is the Minister aware that the construction of our ships is in danger of out-stripping the facilities of our ports? While we know that these tankers can come up to the estuaries and that there is no need for them to enter the harbour, there are times when it will be necessary for these ships to come into the harbour and enter dry dock, and we have not got the facilities for catering for them? Will he do something to hurry up the matter, because it is very urgent to Bristol?

Apart from the "Queens", there are no ships of this tonnage and width of beam or over on the United Kingdom register and none under construction here. There are some eight ships of that size in operation and thirteen under construction. All are tankers and are now being built in Japan. They mostly run between the Persian Gulf and Japan, and none has yet discharged at a United Kingdom port.

Does that mean that we we cannot accept these ships in this country because we do not have the facilities at our ports? That is a reflection upon this country and our shipping industry.

I cannot agree with that. As I said in my Answer, we have sufficient of these big docks for the time being.