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Commons Chamber

Volume 645: debated on Monday 24 July 1961

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House Of Commons

Monday, 24th July, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

British Transport Commission Bill

Middlesex County Council Bill

Lords Amendments considered and agreed to.

Shakespeare Birthplace, &C, Trust Bill Lords

Read the Third time and passed, with Amendments.

Poole Corporation Bill Lords

As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.

Teesside Railless Traction Board (Additional Route) Provisional Order Bill

Lords Amendment considered and agreed to.

Glasgow Corporation Order Confirmation Bill

Considered; to be read the Third time Tomorrow.

Oral Answers To Questions


Small Mines


asked the Minister of Power if, in view of the manpower shortages existing in areas of deep mines, lie will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to increase the number of licences to open or extend work at small mines, many of which are situated in areas where there is substantial or potential unemployment.

No, Sir. The licensing of small mines is the statutory responsibility of the National Coal Board. My right hon. Friend understands that though the Board's main concern must be the need for the output from a proposed mine, it is ready to take the local employment situation into account in considering applications.

Does my hon. Friend realise that that is a very unsatisfactory reply, that the situation is most absurd because the Minister is continually worried about the manpower situation in the mines, and yet here in the hill villages of Northumberland and Cumberland the miners are denied the right to work because the Coal Board will not issue these licences? Could my hon. Friend consult with his right hon. Friend and ask the Chairman of the National Coal Board to look into this question again, particularly in these special areas?

Section 36 of the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act gives the Board, and not the Minister, power to license coal mines. I have already said that the Board is ready to consider the local employment situation when deciding whether or not a licence should be issued. I am certain that if my hon. Friend has a special case in mind the Chairman of the National Coal Board will be very glad to discuss it with him.

Manpower, Scotland


asked the Minister of Power to what extent there is now a shortage of manpower in the coal mines of Scotland; and what success has been achieved in recruitment of young workers to the mining industry in Scotland.

Individual pits may occasionally be short, particularly of skilled craftsmen. In the first 27 weeks of the year, the National Coal Board recruited 1,055 juveniles, compared with 878 in the same period last year.

Can the Minister tell us whether there is still a shortage and whether he proposes to carry on a similar recruiting drive to attract young men into the mines as the Secretary of State for War is doing to attract them into the Army?

There is a shortage, as I have said in my answer, but I do not think the hon. Gentleman need yet be unduly depressed by the slow results flowing from his recruitment campaign at Eton College last February. There may be results in time.

In all areas the position of craftsmen is difficult, and Scotland is no exception, but frankly the manpower situation in Scotland causes me rather less anxiety than the manpower position in other parts of the country.

Can the Minister say to what extent craftsmen are leaving the mining industry?

I could not without notice. If the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question I will do my best to answer it, but the craftsman position is causing anxiety.

Steel Company Of Wales (Coal Supplies)


asked the Minister of Power what is the result of his conversations with the chairman of the National Coal Board with regard to the supply of appropriate Welsh coking coals to the Steel Company of Wales at prices competitive with United States Virginian coals offered, in order to obviate the issue of an import licence; and whether he will make a statement.

I have been having general conversations with the chairman. The President of the Board of Trade hopes to make an announcement about the application by the Steel Company of Wales before the Summer Recess.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, having regard to the grave balance of payments difficulties and similar troubles of present circumstances, it would be incalculable folly to bring in American coal when, by a little intelligent manipulation, on commercial standards, of the present price structure of the Board adequate coking coal could be available from opencast and from deep pits in South Wales to meet the somewhat diminished demands of the Steel Company of Wales? Will he advise the President of the Board of Trade accordingly, giving support, of course, to the views I have put to him this afternoon?

My hon. Friend will realise that this is a wide subject and that he has raised one aspect of it. I assure him that the matters he has raised have been very much in the mind of my right hon. Friend for quite a few weeks.

Will the Minister, in consultation with the President of the Board of Trade, realise that, if by any chance the Government gave this permission, it would have a serious effect upon the view which the men take about the future of the industry in South Wales and aggravate an already serious manpower position?

In view of the fact that the Government will probably say "No" to this request of the Steel Company of Wales, why have they taken such a long time to make up their mind on such a simple matter?

It is not a simple matter at all. In fact, there are a great many considerations which have to be balanced. I shall not anticipate my right hon. Friend's statement, which, as I say, will be made in the next week or two.

Does not the Minister consider, seeing that the steel industry had the benefit when we were importing coal from America and selling it at the inland price, that it is rather impudent and unpatriotic now for it to seek to obtain cheap American coal at the expense of British industry?

I seem to remember most of these considerations being brought to my attention about a month ago.


7 and 8.

asked the Minister of Power (1) what are the present stocks of coal and manufactured fuels suitable for domestic use; and whether he is satisfied that the supply of such coal and fuel is sufficient to ensure that there will be no shortage in the coming winter, both in smokeless zones and elsewhere;

(2) what are the present stocks of boiler fuel in England; and whether he is satisfied that the supply of such fuel is sufficient to ensure that there will be no shortage in the coming winter.

On 8th July, merchants' and producers' stocks were 1·8 million tons house coal, and over 8 million tons coke, anthracite and boiler fuel, and 200,000 tons other manufactured fuels. Notwithstanding these stocks, there is always the possibility of local delays or shortages through winter delivery difficulties, and I advise consumers who can do so to stock now.

Does my hon. Friend expect that those stocks will be sufficient to tide us over a winter, which, for all we know, may be a very cold one?

Stocks at the moment stand comparison with stocks at this time last year. What will happen between now and winter is problematical. I have said that those who can afford to buy stocks should do so now.


asked the Minister of Power whether he is satisfied with the steps being taken to encourage the public to stock solid fuel this summer so as to avoid delivery delays next winter; and if he will make a statement.

Both the National Coal Board and other producers of domestic fuels have announced special price reductions for the summer period in order to encourage stocking. It is most important that merchants and consumers should take full advantage of these reductions and stock as much fuel as they can. Good stocks in merchants' yards and consumers' cellars are the best safeguard against delivery delays next winter.

Will my right hon. Friend consider in publicity such a matter as "gimmick" advertising which has been so successful in the gas industry and which might help to put the thing across, quite apart from any summer price incentives?

I shall not do any advertising myself, but I shall bring my hon. Friend's ideas to the attention of the Coal Board.

Anthracite Grains


asked the Minister of Power if he is aware of the shortage of anthracite grains 1A, a smokeless fuel, in central Norfolk; and what action he is taking to remedy the shortage.

There is a strong demand for this quality of grain and the National Coal Board is having difficulty in meeting all demands quickly. Where there are difficulties, the Board does its best to offer a satisfactory alternative.

Is my hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, Central (Mr. Collard)—who unfortunately cannot be here as he is convalescing after an illness—has received many bitter complaints about this problem? Does he recall that my hon. Friend wrote to him last year about it, and can he do any more to speed up delivery of this type of fuel?

The Board can offer lower grades of anthracite grain. Heavy capital expenditure has been incurred in South Wales in providing for future increases of output. That capital expenditure is now making a small contribution to output, and the contribution should steadily increase.



asked the Minister of Power if, in view of the number of miners leaving the mining industry, he will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to offer a bonus payment to encourage miners to stay in the mines similar to that which is proposed to be paid to soldiers to retain them in the Army.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State for War is offering £200 to retain the services of young men in the Army? Does not he think that from the point of view of the national interest it is just as important to keep young men in the mines as it is in the Army?

After the study which the hon. Gentleman has made of the Army and the mining industry, I am sure that he will have noticed certain differences between the two organisations. This is not, in fact, a matter for me. One difference is that perhaps the discipline attached to the recent bounty award might appear irksome to some people working in the mining industry.

Ministry Of Power

Cross-Channel Electricity Cable


asked the Minister of Power when the cross-Channel electricity cable will start to operate; what is the capacity; what economies will result in capital investment in the electricity supply industry and to the consumer; and whether he will make a statement.

The cross-Channel cable is expected to be working commercially before the end of the year; its capacity will be 160 mega Watts; the capital saving from its installaton will be about £3,400,000, but this economy will not significantly reduce the average price to the consumer.

Will not my hon. Friend agree that the reduction of capital costs in the electricity supply industry, which is the most voracious of all the nationalised industries in the matter of capital investment, should occupy his attention continuously, with a view to the expansion of these cross-Channel cable facilities, and will he consider them in the context also of a Channel tunnel?

I have no doubt that when experience has been gained in the working of this cable and the exchange of electricity between the two countries the matter will be further studied. The question of a Channel tunnel is not one for my right hon. Friend.



asked the Minister of Power what volume of liquid methane has been imported during the past 12 weeks.

Is the Minister prepared to make a statement to the House on the proposal sent to him by the Gas Council? Further, could he define as clearly as possible what expectations his Department has received from the National Coal Board of the result of importing methane gas produced by coal in order to benefit both industries?

This is a complicated matter. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have received proposals from the Gas Council which I am considering. The competitive ability of the Coal Board to produce coal for the making of gas is one of the matters which I am taking into consideration. What I have promised to do is to make a statement to the House when I have reached a decision and to tell the House of the factors on which my decision was based.

Is it likely that a statement will be made on this subject before the House rises?

Durham Coalfield (Gasification Plant)


asked the Minister of Power what financial authority he has given to the Gas Council for the installation in the Durham coalfield of a Lurgi-type gasification plant.

Is the Minister prepared to give serious consideration to the establishment of a Lurgi plant in the North-East if the Lurgi system proves an economic proposition? Further, does he appreciate the importance of the time factor to the Coal Board in the practical economics of operating Lurgi plants, especially when the Coal Board is to review its finances as a consequence of the Government's recent White Paper on the Financial and Economic Obligations of the Nationalised Industries?

I shall give consideration to the setting up of further Lurgi plants if the Lurgi process turns out to be fully competitive, but it would be dishonest of me to raise too much the hon. Gentleman's hopes about Lurgi plants being built in Durham because, as I understand it, the qualities of Durham coal are not thought most likely to be very suitable for the Lurgi process.

Before giving consent to such proposals as the Lurgi project, will my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of (1) importing methane, and (2) the cracking of suitable petroleum feed stocks imported into the United Kingdom, which would produce gas at an economic price?

I am considering broadly the methane proposals, the use of petroleum feed stocks and the Lurgi process, all as part of one consideration.

Does the Minister realise that the proposed imports of methane are to come from some of the most politically unstable parts of the Middle East? There is trouble now in Algeria and Tunis. May we have an assurance that he will not sanction the import of methane until he knows the results of the studies made by the Gas Council and the Coal Board as to the success of the Lurgi process?

I could not go so far as to say that I shall definitely wait for the outcome of the studies, but I shall certainly wait until I am myself satisfied about the comparative merits of the different ways of making gas here.

Apprenticeships, Scotland


asked the Minister of Power whether, in view of the shortage of apprenticeships in Scotland generally, and in Fife in particular, he will take steps to ensure that the coal, gas, and electricity undertakings play their full part towards a solution of this problem.

The coal and gas industries in Scotland have well established schemes for apprenticeship training, and are increasing substantially the number of apprentices. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland tells me that the two Scottish Electricity Boards are also playing their full part.

The Minister would agree, would he not, that that is a rather vague answer to the quite specific Question on the Order Paper? Does he recognise that there are very limited opportunities in Scotland generally and in Fife in particular for apprentice training? What steps is he taking, in conjunction with the nationalised industries, to ensure that these opportunities are fairly spread? In view of the very limited opportunites in Scotland, is he satisfied that Scotland is getting its fair share of apprenticeships?

I will certainly bring to the notice of the nationalised boards the importance of spreading these opportunities. The hon. Gentleman indicated that he was a little dissatisfied with my Answer. Perhaps a rather more satisfactory answer was given in "Signposts for the Sixties", which, perhaps, he has read. It stated:

"The nationalised industries are making a magnificent response."

Ministry Of Aviation

London Airport (Terminal Building)


asked the Minister of Aviation when he anticipates completion of the terminal building for international traffic at London Airport.

The first part of the new passenger terminal for long-haul services should be completed during October and the remainder next spring.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether, when this long overdue building is completed, all motor traffic will be able to drop passengers at the door of the building instead of leaving them across the road, as is the case with the other building at the Central Airport?

I will bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said. I do not want to commit myself in advance of knowing what the traffic will be at Heathrow by saying just where everyone will go.

Gatwick Airport (Runway Facilities)


asked the Minister of Aviation what steps he is taking to enlarge and improve the runway facilities at Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick Airport was designed for use by short and medium haul services and not for the heavier long haul aircraft taking off at their maximum all-up weight. It would be uneconomic to duplicate the facilities which have been provided at Heathrow for regular long haul services.

To meet the requirements of short and medium haul aircraft at Gatwick, I have recently increased the distance available for take-off at the western end of the existing runway. I have also asked consulting engineers to survey and make an estimate of the cost and time required for the construction of a second runway.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when heavy jet aircraft are diverted to Gatwick Airport they have to take off with an insufficient load of fuel to complete their journey, which necessitates another landing fee, well over £100? Is it right that a country which is as important in the world as Britain as an air centre should have only one major airport in the south of England which will take the heaviest aircraft?

There is a certain confusion here. A fully-loaded medium-range jet can, of course, take off from Gatwick. That is what it is designed for. It is also possible to divert for landing purposes a trans-Atlantic jet, but a trans-Atlantic jet cannot take off fully-loaded. For that purpose it has to go back to Heathrow. As the Estimates Committee suggested the other day, there is a case for reducing the landing fee for a transfer of that kind, That would be much cheaper than trying to duplicate Heathrow.

Has the Minister's attention been drawn to Recommendation No. 25 of the Estimates Committee and to the paragraph in the Report which urges the Minister to make provision to enable jet aircraft to take off fully loaded from Gatwick, If this is not done, the principle of having a secondary or alternative airport to Heathrow is completely nullified.

I will consider very carefully what is, I am sure, an admirable Report. I do not wish to give an answer now, but I should like to make it clear beyond peradventure that Gatwick is not an alternative to Heathrow. That is the starting point for fully-loaded trans-Atlantic traffic. There are many other things that we would do before we did what has been suggested.

Traffic is heavy, not only across the Atlantic, but to Australia, Africa and the rest of the world. Is it not high time that a large number of services went from Gatwick instead of from Heathrow, which is already overcrowded?

Heathrow is overcrowded, not with long distance jets but with medium and short haul jets. There might be a case for transferring some of those to Gatwick. I do not wish to debate the matter in detail now. If my hon. Friend likes to have a word with me, I am sure that I can persuade him of the justice of my case.

London Airport (Advertisement)


asked the Minister of Aviation when the contract to advertise whisky at the main terminal building of London Airport expires and if he proposes to renew it.

The contract is for a period of twelve months from 19th May, 1961, and thereafter subject to cancellation on six months' notice. The renewal or termination of the contract will be considered at the appropriate time.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am not averse to advertising good Scotch whisky? However, does he realise that this advertisement would harmonise better with the Mardi gras than with the dignity of a great airport like London Airport, which is the European gateway to Britain and the American gateway to Europe?

I am glad to hear of the hon. Gentleman's tastes. I am aware of the differing views which have been expressed about the merits of this advertisement.

I am not averse to advertising in general, or to this particular product, but it does seem a pity that this advertisement should be in this place. Will not the Parliamentary Secretary, and the Minister, too, consider the matter again, because this advertisement gives a very unfortunate impression?

I am sure that when the time for renewal comes the views which have been expressed will be borne in mind.

Space Research


asked the Minister of Aviation what contribution will be made by oversea Commonwealth countries to the European space research project.

The Australian Government have offered to make the Woomera Range and its facilities available to the proposed European organisation for developing a space vehicle launcher.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer. Despite Canadian commitments to the United States, partly due to the long delay in starting our own project, are there not Canadians of science and skill and other Commonwealth citizens in countries such as India who can help us?

I am sure that there are Commonwealth citizens who could help us and who would be very welcome. The Commonwealth Governments have been kept fully informed. I think that, on the whole, it is unlikely that, apart from Australia, they will be participating directly.

Turnhouse Airport, Edinburgh


asked the Minister of Aviation whether the work at present being carried out on the runways and buildings at Turnhouse Airport, Edinburgh, will be completed by 1st August as originally scheduled.

The runway works will be complete, and although the new buildings will not be fully ready, Turn-house will re-open, and East Fortune will be closed, on 1st August.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the disappointment which is felt in Edinburgh owing to the failure to have the building ready? Can he say whether there was a contract for the building to be finished by 1st August? Was a penalty clause attached to the contract? If so, has it been broken? Finally, will my hon. Friend make clear in the House that any inconvenience that may be suffered is in no part due to British European Airways?

I am not aware of the precise terms of the contract, but I will write to my hon. Friend on that paint. The architect expects the work to be completed substantially by the end of August.

Helicopter Stations, London Area


asked the Minister of Aviation if he is yet able to publish the Report of the Committee on the Planning of Helicopter Stations in the Landon Area; and if he will make a statement.

In its first Report, the Committee recommended three possible sites for the operation of regular services with large scale helicopters: Nine Elms Goods Yard, Cannon Street Station roof and St. Katharine Docks. Detailed technical and economic studies are continuing.

Meanwhile, as the Report contains much of public interest, I have decided to publish it, together with a Supplementary Report recently completed by the Committee on the possibility of operating helicopters from the roofs of high buildings. Copies will be available in the Vote Office today.

In thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that information, may I ask him to bear in mind that we had another Report, a very optimistic one, from the Inter-Departmental Committee on Helicopters, in 1951, and that we are still awaiting developments from then? Can the Minister now say that there is hope of getting a helicopter landing station in London itself? As he is aware, many provincial towns have for years earmarked sites and it is London that is holding things up.

We must never lose hope. I share the hon. Member's view that it is clear that helicopters will play a part in city to city travel in the future. I urge hon. Members to read this Report. As a preliminary to further discussion, it would be very useful.

Will the Minister keep in mind the noise question? It is of great importance and we are all anxious to see helicopters in city centres if possible, but not at the sacrifice of the peace of mind of the citizens

If the hon. Member reads the Report, he will see that the noise question figures prominently in it, both as to the contribution which can be made by the manufacturers and the operators, as well as the problems of where to site the heliport.

Airports (Noise Abatement)


asked the Minister of Aviation whether he has studied the recommendations of the International Air Transport Association on noise abatement at airports and other contingent matters; and if he will make a statement on their practicability.

Yes, Sir. We are grateful for the work which the International Air Transport Association has carried out on this subject, and we agree with many of its recommendations. A number of the proposals are still being studied and trials are being made of procedures after take-off which will help to reduce still further the disturbance over built-up areas

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with the recommendations that airports should be good neighbours and community assets? Does he also agree with the recommendation which states that his Department should provide all-weather ground facilities so that pilots should be able to use minimum noise flight paths when coming into and leaving airports?

I certainly agree that airports should be community assets, and we are carrying out trials based on the recommendations concerning minimum noise standards. What we cannot accept is suggestions for relaxation of our present standards of noise.

Does the hon. Gentleman further agree that noise-critical areas ought not to be developed as housing areas?

We certainly keep in touch with the planning authorities on that sort of matter.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary agree that he should pay great attention to the second point raised by my hon. Friend concerning the noise of aircraft coming in, which is often neglected, as compared with the noise of aircraft taking off? It is aircraft coming in which make the noise spread over wide areas of cities of great importance.


Obstetrics (Report)


asked the Minister of Health what comments he has received from regional hospital boards and hospital management committees upon the Report of the Standing Maternity and Midwifery Advisory Committee of the Central Health Services Council dealing with human relations in obstetrics; and how many replies have indicated opposition to the recommendations of the Report.

Comments from boards are not due before 30th September, nor reports from committees before the end of this month. I will make the results public when they are to hand.

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that one of the greatest difficulties in providing the best possible service in our hospitals is the shortage of nurses? Does he not think that the Committee took this matter too little into account in its recommendations and findings? Will my right hon. Friend make representations to the General Nursing Council to reduce the starting age for the training of nurses, because this might enable us to get more nurses and to put right some of the deficiencies which were pointed out by the Committee?

My hon. Friend's second point is a separate one. As regards the first, I believe that the Committee was right to place its main emphasis on the better use of trained staff, particularly nurses and midwives.

Royal Gwent Hospital


asked the Minister of Health when it is intended to place for contract part one of phase one of the building programme of the Royal Gwent Hospital; and when it is anticipated that the six operating theatres and maternity units included within this phase will be completed.

The whole of stage one should go to tender next year and be finished about 1965.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary recognise the serious need of bringing this work forward and being able to get on with it, in view of the fact the existing operating theatres are described as hazardous by surgeons in charge of them? Cannot something be done to expedite this work?

I am aware of the need; we have discussed it in previous Questions. As, however, the hon. Member will know, it was at first thought that two major developments at this hospital would fulfil the need. To provide a fully adequate and satisfactory service, however, it was subsequently agreed that the whole of the hospital must be redeveloped, and it will take from three to four years to complete this phase.


asked the Minister of Health whether work has now been commenced on the two temporary huts intended to be constructed for the casualty department at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport; and when they will be completed.

Construction will begin on 1st October and should be finished by 1st April, 1962.

Geriatric Units


asked the Minister of Health when it is expected that the Hospital Design Unit will be able to make available to the regional hospital boards designs for standardised geriatric units which can be built quickly and economically.

The Design Unit produces building notes on the planning of various departments, including chronic sick wards, and is studying standard component parts which might be suitable for many types of hospital building. It is not proposed to design standard hospital departments.

Can my right hon. Friend look at this matter again? In view of the need for large-scale rebuilding of geriatric units, the production of standardised designs for complete units might be very helpful. Will he also consider asking the Design Unit to look at the need for standardised designs for units for the younger chronic sick persons suffering from disseminated sclerosis?

This is certainly a matter which one must continue to study and experiment with. My view at present, however, is that a standardised design for a whole department might have to be so much modified in different hospitals that it would not be very helpful. It is more useful to standardise the component parts rather than the whole department.

Starcross And Calderstones Mental Hosptals


asked the Minister of Health what is the number of patients at the Starcross and Calderstones mental hospitals; and how many of the patients at each of these hospitals which formerly only accommodated compulsorily detained patients are now informal patients as a result of being reclassified under the new Mental Health Act.

At 14th July, 1,040 out of 1,148 patients at Starcross and 1,323 out of 1,896 patients at Calderstones were informal. Of these, 14 and 516, respectively, were made informal since 1st November, 1960.

Does not the Minister agree that this is a remarkable transformation, because before the passing of the Act these patients were compulsorily detained but are now, being informal patients, more or less free? Does he not think that there is a need to look into these figures, because it is being said that patients are being reclassified much too early? If that is not true, does he not appreciate what a terrible scandal it was that prior to the Act these people were compulsorily detained?

As the hon. Member knows, both practice and law in this matter have changed, but I think it would help to put the matter in perspective if I were to point out that classification as informal, of which I gave figures in my reply, has been taking place since the beginning of 1958, and it has been progressive over the lash three or four years.

Davyhulme Park Hospital (Death)


asked the Minister of Health if he has considered the recommendation of the jury at the inquest upon Clifford Daly, who died at Davyhulme Park Hospital from heart failure due to high temperature following a heat stroke, that serious thought should be given to installing ventilation equipment in the operating theatres; and whether he will now expedite the capital development of the ancillary service units at this hospitals, including the operating theatres.

The hospital management committee is considering urgently what action is called for.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for the answer to the first part of my Question, may I ask him to answer the second part? Is he aware that the hospital management committee has been pressing the regional hospital board for certain improvements in the ancillary services of this hospital for the last twelve years, and that under present plans they are not to be commenced for ten years or completed for sixteen? Will he expedite them?

There is no need for any of the improvements which may be found necessary as a result of this to wait upon other capital expenditure.

That does not answer my Question. Will my right hon. Friend expedite capital expenditure on the hospital improvements which have been awaited for a long time and which, under present plans, are not to be started for ten years?

These will have to take their place in the long-term plan which is under consideration at the moment. I have not arrived at my own decision as to the timing of these improvements.

Admissions, Cornwall


asked the Minister of Health to what extent the admission of Cornish residents to hospitals is being delayed because beds are occupied by visitors to the county who have been injured in road accidents.

I regret that I have no figures which would enable me to answer the hon. Member's Question.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary institute an inquiry? This question was raised at a recent meeting of the West Cornwall Hospital Management Committee, when the county medical officer of health said:

"We are having more casualties over a longer period. They begin to rise earlier each year."
I can assure the hon. Lady that this is not a new problem.

It would take a very considerable amount of time and money to conduct a detailed analysis such as the hon. Member suggests. I am aware of the problem of accidents; it is not peculiar to Cornwall but applies to all holiday resorts, and it is a seasonal problem.

Is my hon. Friend aware that I myself was an inmate of a Cornish hospital for eight months as a result of a road accident in the summer, and would she not agree that many patients in our hospitals are local residents?

Yes, but it is impossible to distinguish the figures. I am glad that my hon. Friend responded to the treatment available for him.

Because of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I propose to take the earliest opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.

New Hospital, Truro


asked the Minister of Health when tenders are to be invited for the new area hospital at Truro; and when work on it will begin.

Will the Minister explain the delay, because at the end of November last he said in this House that the working drawings of the first phase would be completed by the end of December and the bills of quantities would be ready by May of this year? Why is there to be a delay of twelve months in the laying of the foundation stone?

The laying of the foundation stone does not follow immediately upon the completion of the bills of quantities. I am satisfied that this is going ahead so as to enable me to lay the stone next spring.



asked the Minister of Health what reply he has made to the request of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for an independent inquiry into the salary structure of physiotherapists.

My right hon. Friend has informed the Society that he considers the present negotiating machinery is appropriate for settling the pay and conditions of service of physiotherapists in the National Health Service.

Is it not clear that the physiotherapists do not think so? Is the hon. Lady aware that they have no confidence that this machinery will look at the salary structure afresh in order, for example, to fix the appropriate rate for student teachers in physiotherapy, of whom there is a very acute shortage, leading to a very serious situation in the Health Service?

This negotiating machinery was set up with the agreement of both sides at the inception of the National Health Service. It has served this profession and other comparable professions in the Service. I think that there is a claim in for increases for physiotherapist teachers.

Is the hon. Lady aware that there is growing discontent amongst chartered physiotherapists about their salary scales? Cannot something be done to expedite this matter?

There was an increase in salary effective from 1st January, 1961, of 5 per cent. for this profession and other allied professions.

Is the hon. Lady aware that the increase to which she has referred was negotiated specifically without prejudice to the right of the staff concerned to ask for a re-examination of the negotiating machinery? Does she not recollect that when there was similar discontent among clerical staffs some years ago the Minister set up a Committee under Sir Noel Hall which did a great deal to offset criticism?

I see no reason for assuming that the present machinery is not adequate. I do not think that we could take physiotherapists in isolation, because there are other similar ancillary services in the National Health Service.

Hospital Services (Cost)


asked the Minister of Health if he will state in percentage terms the increased revenue cost of the hospital services in 1960–61 compared with 1955–56, ignoring wage, price and related increases and functions transferred from other departments.

Is not this a rather different picture from the picture given by the right hon. Gentleman at the time of the Health Service debate some months ago? Does he think that an expansion in the Health Service of 2 per cent, per annum is adequate?

The hon. Gentleman falls into the error of equating expansion with increase in expenditure. A good deal of improvement and expansion goes on by way of increased efficiency, so this figure does not represent the full improvement in the Service over the last five years.

Has my right hon. Friend noticed what the Plowden Committee said about the hospital services?

Southmead Hospital, Bristol


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the need for new residential accommodation for medical officers and students at South-mead Hospital, Bristol; what proposals there are for the construction of such accommodation; and when building will begin.

Yes, Sir, The South-Western Regional Hospital Board gives this high priority in its capital programme, but I cannot yet announce a starting date.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the population of the area which this hospital serves has increased very rapidly, which imposes an additional burden on the hospital? Could new accommodation be provided by a centrally financed scheme?

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is, "Yes". The answer to the second part is that the plans for meeting this need will form part of the overall ten-year plan on which I am engaged.

Ministry Of Health

Barbiturate Drugs


asked the Minister of Health what steps are taken to warn persons for whom barbiturate drugs are prescribed that it is dangerous to consume alcohol within a short time of the taking of such drugs.

This is a matter for the doctor, who is reminded in both the British National Formulary and the Comprehensive Handbook on Prescribing of the need to warn the patient.

Does my hon. Friend recall that in an Answer which she gave me on 17th April it was shown that the number of deaths which had been caused by a combination of alcohol and bibiturate drugs was twice as great in 1960 as in 1959? Will she, therefore, consider, in addition to the instructions sent to practitioners, issuing regulations to dispensers which would require them to use a label for the containers of all barbiturate drugs, warning the person concerned of the dangers?

The figures which I gave my hon. and gallant Friend on the previous occasion reflect not necessarily an increase in this type of case but an increase in the awareness of coroners. I am sure that the right person to issue the warning is the doctor who prescribes the barbiturates. Nevertheless, there has been publicity in the national Press, and I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend's Question today will add to the public knowledge of the risk of taking the two things together.

Russian Ballet Dancers (Dental Treatment)


asked the Minister of Health what dental treatment has been provided for Russian ballet dancers under the National Health Service recently; and what was the cost.

I am sending my hon. Friend details of the treatment. The net cost, on latest information, was just over £100.

As this service is expressly for the people of Britain, does my right hon. Friend realise that people who pay for this service object to it being abused and, particularly, to jumping of the queue when others who have to pay for the service have to wait as much as three months for the service of the dentist? Can he offer any suggestions for overcoming this difficulty.

I am considering if this sort of case can practicably be avoided in future.

Does the Minister think that the National Health Service has ever had better advertisement for £100 in the whole of its existence? Will he resist all pressure from the benches behind him to reduce the availability of the Health Service to visitors to this country?

The Health Service is available primarily for the people of this country, as my hon. Friend rightly said. But, of course—and, I think, we are at one on this—we provide emergency and Good Samaritan treatment for the stranger within our gates. As I have said, however, I am considering whether a case of this kind can practicably be avoided in future.

Can my right hon. Friend give any indication of the extent to which there is abuse of these provisions, if at all? Can he give any figure for the average annual cost to this country of providing free medical treatment to visitors?

I have explained that free medical treatment is not, except within the limits I mentioned, available to visitors, and the total annual cost, though it cannot be precisely estimated, must be relatively very small.

When the Minister refers to Good Samaritan treatment, can he say whether there is any Biblical precedent for the idea that we should do our best to see that the good deed is not repeated?

Prescription Charges


asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the decision of the Annual Conference of Local Medical Committees held on 15th June which registered opposition to the increased prescription charges; and if, in view of this new evidence from the majority of general practitioners in the National Health Service, he will now abolish these charges.

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

Is the Minister aware that last Wednesday 80,000 doctors represented at the British Medical Association's Annual Conference also came out against prescription charges? What further evidence does he want us to produce before he will consider changing his pernicious policy?

I am not aware that evidence bearing on the matter was produced either at the debate to which the hon. Member refers in his Question or at that referred to in his supplementary question. Certainly no reasons were given to count against the grounds on which this House came to its decision.


asked the Minister of Health what steps he has taken to ascertain the effects on dispensing chemists of the increased prescription charges; and if he will make a statement.

Is the Minister aware of the great dissatisfaction amongst dispensing chemists at the present situation, at the change in the dispensing habits, from people coming at the end of the week—at pay day—rather than at the beginning? Can he tell the House Whether there is any threat of a strike on the part of dispensing chemists? If so, What emergency plan has he to meet the desire of patients to have their medicines?

The second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question seems to be a different question. As regards the first part, I have had no representations on a change in the dispensing habits to which he refers.

Has not the increased prescription charge led to a demand for a very considerable increase in dispensing fees by chemists? Is not the right hon. Gentleman's saving going to be a very expensive one in the end?

It is much too soon to know whether there is any reduction in chemists' income as a result of or since the increase in the prescription charge.

Orange Juice


asked the Minister of Health to what extent his revised National Health Service leaflet has publicised the fact that concentrated orange juice is now available to all children up to the age of five years.


asked the Minister of Health to what extent he is giving publicity to the amount of concentrated orange juice now available from the West Indies for children up to five years of age.


asked the Minister of Health if he will take more vigorous steps to publicise the fact that orange juice is available to children under five years of age, in view of the need to assist the citrus industry of the West Indies.

The fact that orange juice is available for children up to five is made clear in the publicity already undertaken and in further publicity my right hon. Friend has in hand. I am sending examples to the hon. Members.

In view of the fact that very considerable quantities of orange juice can be supplied by the West Indies and British Honduras, would not the Minister consider initiating a nationwide publicity campaign to popularise this welfare food, not only in the interests of the children up to the age of five but also in the interests of the economy of the West Indies?

Orange juice is good for children up to the age of five, but it is not essential. I do not think my Department could undertake a publicity campaign on the lines that "Orange juice is good for you," but we do all we can to make known in the appropriate circles, particularly to the mothers concerned—they are the most interested parties—the fact that orange juice certainly is good and that it is good value.

It may not be necessary, but would my hon. Friend agree that this concentrated orange juice does, in fact, provide one of the best and cheapest farms of Vitamin C for children, and also, in the interests of the economy of the West Indies, particularly of British Honduras, will she really give as much publicity as she possibly can to it?

My hon. Friend is quite right: one bottle of orange juice is worth seven oranges; it is good value, as I said earlier to the House. In addition to the publicity in the leaflets we hand out and through the facts we make known to editors of journals, I hope that an announcement is to be made on the B.B.C. on Friday of this week.

Would the hon. Lady not agree that the best service she could do, not only to the West Indies citrus fruit producers but to the mothers and children of this country, would be to restore the subsidy which was withdrawn a few months ago?

No. As I have already said, this is extremely good value and far better value for a mother than fresh oranges she might buy.

Children, Cornwall (Special Establishments)


asked the Minister of Health how many establishments exist in Cornwall for giving special treatment to children who are mentally below the standard for normal education; and what progress he expects to make in the provision of additional establishments of this kind.

Six training centres and one hospital. Plans for a new centre were approved this year and another is in the county council's programme for next year. Additional hospital provision is under consideration.

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that this is a very urgent problem in Cornwall, causing great anxiety to many parents of these subnormal and backward Children, and will she do her utmost to expedite the plans she has already announced this afternoon?



asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the increasing control of the British drug industry by United States firms; what proportion of the National Health Service drug bill is paid to United States controlled firms; and what action he proposes to take to limit the amount of drugs purchased from such firms.

The answer to the first and third parts of the Question is in the negative; I regret that the information asked for in the second part is not available.

Does the Minister agree that some of the American firms have been responsible for the high-pressure type of salesmanship which seems to have led to a waste in drugs? Have any representations been made to them to cease some of these practices so that we can get greater economy in the drug bill?

I am anxious by any means to ensure that the National Health Service gets the drugs it needs on the best possible terms, but I do not think that that would be done by discriminating against one set of firms as such. The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry has taken some quite successful steps in recent years to increase the standards of sales promotion in some quarters.

Council Of Europe (Recommendations)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what action is being taken by the representative of Her Majesty's Government on the Committee of Ministers in pursuance of Council of Europe Recommendation No. 276 concerning compulsory road education in schools.

The United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe has agreed with other members of the Committee of Ministers' Deputies that this Recommendation should be transmitted for opinion to the Committee of Cultural Experts.

In view of the demonstrated importance of making this a compulsory subject in school curricula, as demonstrated by the experience of those countries which have already done so, will the Government stress this very strongly on behalf of this country in the discussions which are taking place and encourage the proposal that there should be a conference of experts to discuss very thoroughly such experience and the advantages of making it a compulsory subject?

All matters relating to subjects in schools in this country are for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what action is being taken by the representatives of Her Majesty's Government on the Committee of Ministers in pursuance of Council of Europe Recommendation No. 279 concerning technical assistance to Africa.

The Committee of Ministers at Deputy level decided at its last meeting to postpone consideration of this recommendation until the Council of Europe Secretariat had completed a study on how it should be put into effect. The United Kingdom representative concurred in this decision.

House Of Commons Catering


asked the hon. Member for Holland with Boston, as Chairman of the Kitchen Committee, whether his attention had been drawn to the Motion on House of Commons Dining Rooms; what action he proposes to take in the matter; and whether he will make a statement.

Yes, Sir. The Committee considered this matter fully at its meeting on Wednesday last. It is sympathetic with the sentiments implied in the Motion, and is unanimous in deprecating any use of the Dining Rooms which would be in any way likely to bring this House into discredit. It does not feel, however, that it can take any action in this matter apart from strictly enforcing Rule 3 of the rules of booking. The Committee does not feel that it would be desirable or appropriate for the Committee to possess the powers of cross-examining Members which this Motion seeks to give them.

I am satisfied that the great majority of functions which take place give no reasonable cause for complaint whatsoever. I appeal to all right hon. and hon. Members to be vigilant in regard to functions for which they accept responsibility, so that the dignity of the House may be fully maintained.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am very grateful for his sympathetic reply to my Question? Will he take such steps as are open to him and his Committee to remind hon. Members of their heavy responsibility in this matter, since his Committee has the repute and dignity of the House in its hands in this respect?

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I ask Members who use the services of the Refreshment Department to be so good as to remember that they are in the position of hosts and those who come should be regarded as their personal guests. I am quite sure that they will accept full responsibility for the kind of people who come here.

Common Market


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is now in a position to state what special settlement he will seek to negotiate on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, when he enters into further negotiations with the six Foreign Ministers of the European Economic Community on Great Britain's application for membership of the Common Market.

I would ask the hon. Gentleman to await the statement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister hopes to make on these matters on 31st July.

In view of that, will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will make quite clear to the country what the Government hope to achieve and what they are prepared to relinquish before they proceed any further in negotiating our participation in the European Economic Community?

Will my right hon. Friend tell me whether, before he attempts to make any settlement to bring about this bigamous marriage by Britain with the wench across the water, he will allow a decent lapse of time for our divorce from the British Commonwealth on grounds of desertion so that at least it can appear as if we are acting in good faith?

I have no desire to become involved in my hon. Friend's matrimonial affairs.


The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Lord Privy Seal what action has been taken by the representative of Her Majesty's Government in the Security Council in response to the Tunisian Government's request to that body for assistance against French aggression


To ask the Lord Privy Seal how the United Kingdom delegate voted in the Security Council of the United Nations on the charge by Tunisia of aggression by France.


To ask the Lord Privy Seal what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government's representative in the Security Council to offer mediation, under Article 33 of the Charter, in the Franco-Tunisian dispute; and if he will make a statement.


To ask the Lord Privy Seal, in view of injury and damage to property in the Bizerta area owing to hostilities between the French garrison and the Tunisian National Guard, what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to protect British subjects and property.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will now answer Questions Nos. 60, 62, 63 and 64.

On 22nd July the Security Council considered three resolutions about events in Bizerta. It adopted by 10 votes to none a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and the return of all forces to their original positions. The United Kingdom voted in favour. The two following resolutions contained the same appeal.

In addition, a resolution sponsored by Liberia and the United Arab Republic called for immediate negotiations between France and Tunisia aimed at the speedy evacuation of the French forces from Tunisia. This received four votes in favour, with seven abstentions, including the United Kingdom, and thus failed.

The third resolution, submitted by the United Kingdom and the United States, urged the two parties to negotiate promptly a peaceful settlement and asked the Council to keep the situation under urgent review in the interest of peace and security. This resolution received six positive votes with five abstentions and, therefore, failed. It was, nevertheless, agreed that the Council should remain seized of the question.

Firing ceased on the night of Saturday, 22nd July. The House will share the earnest hope of Her Majesty's Government that negotiations will now follow and lead to a settlement of the difficulties which have arisen between Tunisia and France.

Her Majesty's Ambassador in Tunis was informed by telephone yesterday afternoon by the Governor of Bizerta that there were no reports of any casualties among the small British community. Her Majesty's Consul arrived in Bizerta this morning to make direct contact with them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the appalling loss of life in Tunisia, involving hundreds of civilians as well as troops, must inevitably embitter Franco-Tunisian relations for some time to come? Will Her Majesty's Government at least press in the Security Council that France shall enter into early negotiations for a speedy withdrawal from Bizerta?

We all deeply regret the loss of life at Bizerta. The resolution put forward by the United Kingdom with the United States urged both sides to find a peaceful settlement of their dispute.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Tunisia, among North African countries, was probably the most sympathetic to the West? To prevent growing between Tunisia and France, will he exercise the utmost influence on France to withdraw from her military bases in Tunisia—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—to withdraw from her military bases in Tunisia, according to the will of the Tunisian people?

In our view, there should now be discussions between the two countries concerned in order to find a peaceful settlement. I understand that Mr. Hammarskjold is on his way to Tunisia to offer his services for that purpose.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Her Majesty's Government's foreign policy is to attempt to found a federation favourable to the West of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria? Will he, therefore, do all he can now to offer his services as a mediator, in order to make certain that these three countries remain favourably disposed to N.A.T.O. and to our allies?

This matter is now in the hands of the Security Council. It is for the Security Council to deal with it. The question of a federation goes much wider altogether.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all Members on both sides of the House will welcome the news of the cease-fire, as much as we deplore the violence—excessive, I think, at least in the case of the French—which preceded it? In view of the fact that the French Government have claimed that the facilities which they now hold in Bizerta are necessary for the N.A.T.O. alliance, will the future of the base be discussed at the next meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council?

I understand that the French Government have pointed out the importance of the base to the defence of the West. I do not think that anyone would question that. I am not aware at the moment that this matter is to be debated by the N.A.T.O. Council.

Portugal (Detention Of Dr Scott)

(by Private Notice) asked the Lord Privy Seal what report he has received from Her Majesty's Representative at Lisbon regarding the detention in prison of Dr. Cecil Scott, a British subject and director of the Evangelical Missionary League, and if he will state the reasons alleged for Dr. Scott's detention.

Yes, Sir. Dr. Scott was detained for questioning by the Portuguese authorities on 19th July. No charge has been brought against him. He was visited by the Consul-General and by Mrs. Scott on 20th and 21st July. He is in good health, and arrangements have been made for food to be sent in to him.

In view of complaints about Dr. Scott's treatment, representations have been made both to the police and by Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Portuguese Government with a view to ensuring that he is well treated while in custody.

My noble Friend is sending further instructions to Her Majesty's Ambassador to request the Portuguese Government that Dr. Scott should either be charged and tried without delay or released.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Dr. Scott occupies a responsible position, and that for many years he has been in charge of the training of all Protestant missionaries, of whatever nationality, in Portuguese overseas territories? Is he further aware that the news of Dr. Scott's arrest without charge will, therefore, occasion very widespread concern, not only in this country but elsewhere? Will the right hon. Gentleman do his best to keep the House informed on this matter?

Yes, Sir. I am aware of the facts which the hon. and learned Gentleman has given about Dr. Scott. I will certainly answer any Questions put down to me about future action. As I have said, my noble Friend has already taken the action which we deem appropriate.

Business Of The House

I will, with permission, make a statement about a debate on the European Economic Community.

In view of the importance of this subject, the Government have decided to give two days for this debate.

As already announced, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will make a statement on Monday, 31st July, and arrangements will be made for the debate to take place on Wednesday, 2nd and Thursday, 3rd August, on a Government Motion.

As a consequence, we shall ask the House to take into consideration on Friday of this week, should there prove to be time, Amendments to the Licensing Bill, which are expected from another place.

It is hoped that the House will adjourn for the Summer Recess on Friday, 4th August.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there will be a general welcome for his announcement that two days is to be given to the debate on the European Economic Community, but can he explain why he has changed his mind? Does not he recall that last Thursday he said that we had better wait to hear the statement by the Prime Minister and that, after we heard it, perhaps one day would be enough? Are we to understand that the Government's policy has now been changed and that, in consequence, we are having two days for the debate?

No, Sir. The policy has not been changed. On listening to the views of the House, including those of the right hon. Gentleman, the Government thought it right for two days to be provided for the debate. I recommended, in my own way, to the Government that that was the wish of the House. Accordingly, that has been decided.

Post Office (Increased Charges)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make a statement.

Since the last general increase in Post Office tariffs took place in 1957, wage and price increases have added £55 million to the Post Office bill; no less than £25 million will fall in the current year. This consists mainly of increases in wage rates. I expect to absorb about two-fifths of this £25 million.

Even so, I must raise a further £25 million in a full year in order to maintain the financial soundness of the Post Office and to prevent a sharp increase in its dependence upon the Exchequer for capital.

This means that I must increase charges. I have decided to raise £16½ million from the telecommunications services and £8½ million from the postal services.

The tariff increases I am proposing apply either to services running at a loss, or to services which produce an inadequate return on capital and where there is a high investment demand.

The principal increases are:


  • 1. Rentals for telephone exchange lines will be increased by £2 per annum.
  • 2. Connection charges for exchange lines will be doubled.
  • 3. Rentals for private switchboards, extensions and private circuits will be increased.
  • I also propose to change the basis of charging for telephones more than three miles from the exchange. The excess mileage rental for existing and new subscribers will be abolished, but new subscribers will pay an increased initial connection charge related to distance and new construction.

    Inland Postage

  • 1. The basic printed paper rate will be increased from 2d. to 2½d. with rebates for large users.
  • 2. The basic charge for newspapers will be increased from 2½d. to 3d.
  • 3. The charges for parcels will be increased by 6d. all round.
  • Details of the changes will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT and for the convenience of Members copies will be available in the Vote Office later this afternoon.

    Increases in connection charges, the abolition of the excess mileage rental, and two other minor changes will take effect as from 26th July. The remaining telephone changes will become operative on 1st November. The postal changes will take effect as from 1st October.

    These proposals are consistent with the Government's aim of putting the finances of the nationalised industries on a sound basis and of reducing borrowing from the Exchequer.

    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your guidance? On may occasions I have raised with you the fact that we are now getting the practice on the part of the Government of giving out what are obviously inspired leaks to the Press and then coming to the House and making a statement.

    Today, in both the mid-day newspapers, there is almost a verbatim report. I quote from one, under the signature of Mr. Robert Carvel, that the Postmaster-General is to make a statement announcing an increase in Post Office charges.

    You will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the first occasion when this has happened. It is now happening on almost every conceivable occasion when, as is the case, the Government so frequently increase charges. I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is not an abuse of your position and that of the House for the Government to ask for a statement to be made in Parliament when, obviously, in view of the fact that both mid-day newspapers had this, the Government had already made their announcement outside the House, and are thus abusing hon. Members of the House.

    There most certainly is no insult to me in any way, or to my office in any way. I understand perfectly what the hon. Member has in mind, but I do not quite understand how it raises any matter for me.

    The first question that one is tempted to ask, of course, is whether this is the rehearsal for tomorrow. Is this the "Purchase Tax" which the Government are proposing to apply to the Post Office? If this is any pointer to what is to happen tomorrow, then the people are in for a very grim time when the Chancellor's announcement is made.

    I should like to ask the Postmaster-General one or two questions about his statement. First, how does he reconcile the statement with two statements which he made during the passage of the Post Office Bill? The first statement was that he was anticipating that a £20 million surplus would be made this year, the same as was made last year. The question I should like him to answer now is: what changes in circumstances have taken place to justify these increases in postal and telephone charges?

    I should also like to ask him about the other statement that he made during the passage of the Post Office Bill. He said that it is a profound mistake to think that price increases, although sometimes necessary, are the only way, or, indeed, the best way, for the Post Office to maintain its financial position. He said that we can earn more simply by promoting profitable custom and doing more business. Why has he gone away from that very wise declaration to us, and why is he imposing further charges upon the public at a time when he ought to be encouraging the sales and the business of the Post Office to an extent which he has not done in the past?

    Is this not, in fact—I should like the Postmaster-General to be specific on this—going back to the old position before the Post Office Bill, of making the Post Office an instrument of taxation for the Government? Is there, therefore, no basis at all for his contention during the passage of that Bill that the Post Office is now to be a free agency, with independence and freedom?

    I should just like to put one or two minor points now. Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that his decision to increase the telecommunications charges will dissuade people, paradoxically enough, from doing what he is asking of them in another direction—encouraging the S.T.D. scheme? Was he not boasting during the Committee stage of the Bill that this was his main objective? How, therefore, does he reconcile his statement with this paradoxical situation?

    Coming now to the question of the charges on inland postage, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he will kill the parcel post service by increasing the charges by 6d? Is it his intention to see that the whole of the traffic is diverted either to private enterprise or to some other form of public enterprise? Is he not ashamed that so soon after the Post Office Bill he comes to the House with this shocking announcement about Post Office charges?

    The hon. Gentleman has asked a number of questions. I will try to answer them in order.

    First, I think that he will wish to await the statement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer tomorrow afternoon.

    I want to make it absolutely clear, with regard to my statement to the House, that this is a Post Office operation conceived by me, and that it will be put through by me in the interests of the Post Office and of the public.

    The hon. Gentleman went on to ask me whether it was not a fact that last year the Post Office earned a surplus of £21 million. That is perfectly true. It is equally true that we expected to earn a good surplus this year without very substantial increases in charges, but since that anticipation was expressed we have had very large increases in wage rates and, of course, the shorter working week for the Post Office, and these have added to our outgoings in the present financial year to the extent of £21 million, which represents 8 per cent. of our total wages bill. That is a fact which it is quite impossible to laugh off. But I have already made it clear that two-fifths of this increase in prices and wages will be absorbed by the Post Office through greater efficiency.

    I can tell the hon. Gentleman and the House that the rate of installation of telephones next year will be as high as this year's, and that this year's figure is almost 50 per cent. higher than the figure for 1950.

    Will my right hon. Friend be a little more specific about the effects of the charges on those who live in country districts outside three-mile territorial waters, as it were?

    Yes, Sir. The position is that existing subscribers—people already on the telephone—will no longer pay an excess amount of £2 per furlong, but in future will pay the same rentals as anybody else. New subscribers will pay the new single connection charge of £5 for each furlong of new wiring in excess of three miles from the exchange. The effect of the change is that existing subscribers in country districts will benefit, and that new subscribers will also find that over a period of about three or four years the charges will be lower than at the present time.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what he has said about the distinction to be drawn between his proposed measures and what the Government may have in mind tomorrow does not carry very much conviction? To us, it seems part and parcel of the same thing. Is he aware that this news that new subscribers in the countryside will be charged more will cause acute distress in the rural areas? Is he aware that already people in the overspill areas are complaining most bitterly about the failure of the Post Office to provide a decent service, or to provide connections?

    No, Sir. I think that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the position. Existing subscribers in country districts will profit by these changes, and subscribers over a period of two and a half years will also be better off.

    My right hon. Friend said that he anticipated that the number of telephone installations next year would be as high as this year. Can he tell us how many telephones he expects to install next year?

    Yes, Sir; about 470,000. This is the same figure as this year, as I said before, and it is a record in the history of the Post Office.