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Written Answers

Volume 645: debated on Wednesday 2 August 1961

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 2nd August, 1961

Royal Air Force

National Service (Senior Aircraftsman Lee)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Air why, in view of the fact that 5091701 Senior Aircraftsman Lee is anxious to serve with the Fleet Auxiliary and has special qualifications as a radio operator needed in that Service, which will lapse through lack of use if he has to complete his National Service with the Royal Air Force, he is not permitted to transfer to the Fleet Auxiliary.

Service in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service cannot count against National Service obligations.I cannot therefore arrange to transfer senior aircraftman Lee.My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, however, has written to my hon. Friend, explaining that we are prepared to allow him to start his terminal leave on 8th October, 1962, which is some days before his qualifications lapse.

Ministry Of Defence

Neutron-Flux Bomb

11.

asked the Minister of Defence what reports he has received from his scientific advisers as to the development of a neutron-flux bomb and whether he will make a statement.

I have seen several reports on this subject in the newspapers. It would not be in the public interest to make any statement on our scientific evaluation of the possibilities of such a weapon.

Armed Forces (Coal Miners)

asked the Minister of Defence how many men of 18 to 30 years of age, who previous occupation was in the coal mining industry of Great Britain, have joined Her Majesty's forces during the years 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, and to the latest available date in 1961, stating each year and each divisional area of the National Coal Board, separately.

I regret that the information required is not readily available and to provide it will entail a detailed check of recruiting records. This is being made but it is not expected to be completed before September. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

National Service Men (Teacher Training Colleges)

asked the Minister of Defence what arrangements have been made for the release out of turn of National Service men who have been accepted for entry to teacher training colleges in October, 1961.

The Service Departments make special arrangements for the release of eligible National Service men in time to take up places they have been allotted at a university, training college or other recognised training establishment. These arrangements will apply to men accepted for entry to teacher training colleges in October, 1961.

Roads

Marlow Bridge

30.

asked the Minister of Transport what further representations he has received from the Marlow Urban District Council expressing the view of the townspeople of Marlow about the rebuilding of Marlow Bridge

I have been told by the Marlow Bridge Preservation Committee about resolutions passed by the Marlow Urban District Council and other local bodies expressing their concern at the delay in reaching a decision on the future of the bridge.

Traffic Signs (Committee)

35.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has now decided upon the general review of road signs previously being considered by him.

I have decided, in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, to set up an independent committee to review traffic signs on all-purpose roads, as distinct from motorways, including roads in urban areas and to recommend what changes should be made. We hope to announce the composition of the Committee shortly.

Internal Ring Road, Oldham

46.

asked the Minister of Transport if, in the proposed planning of the Oldham internal ring road, provision will be made for the existing Ashton to Rochdale road to overpass the proposed ring road and to include the adjacent junction with the existing major east-west road in the town centre.

As the Oldham internal ring road is a potential classified road the planning of it is primarily a matter for the Oldham Corporation, which is the local highway authority. I have not yet received firm proposals from the Corporation, but I understand it is proposed that the ring road, which would become the main east-west route for through traffic, should pass under the Ashton to Rochdale road.

Road Construction (Expenditure)

47.

asked the Minister of Transport what is the estimated annual expenditure from Exchequer funds over the next five years on which he is basing his five-year plan for new road construction; and if he will make a statement.

Expenditure in 1962–63 will be £90·5 million and will increase annually to give a total of approximately £540 million over the five years ending 1966–67.Last July I informed the House of a substantial increase in the provision for motorways and classified roads. We now propose to expand the trunk road programme. This will enable us to increase the work on trunk roads by approximately 50 per cent. from April next.

Road Schemes, Lancashire (Expenditure)

48.

asked the Minister of Transport how much money was spent by the Government on new road construction and major improvements in Lancashire in the financial years ending 31st March, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961, respectively; and how much he expects to spend in the three financial years 1961–62, 1962–63 and 1963–64.

Payments for schemes in the administrative county of Lancashire in the four years were £3·2 million, £5·5 million, £4·5 million and £4·6 million. Estimated payments in 1961–62, 1962–63, and 1963–64 are £12 million, £11 million and £8 million.

Eastern Avenue Extension, Leyton

49.

asked the Minister of Transport in view of Her Majesty's Government's decision to restrict public expenditure, whether the plans for the Eastern Avenue extension through the Borough of Leyton are to be suspended; and approximately for what further period house owners and tenants on the line of the projected extension can now expect to continue their occupancy.

No. The present restrictions on public expenditure will not affect the decision I hope to announce shortly about the Eastern Avenue extension. Several years' notice will be given to owners and tenants whose houses are required for road building purposes.

Long Bridge, Barnstaple

50.

asked the Minister of Transport what proposals he has for improving transport communications over the River Taw at Barnstaple; and whether he will make a statement.

I propose shortly to make an Order under Section 99 of the Highways Act, 1959, under which I shall, with the agreement of the Trustees, assume responsibility as highway authority for the Long Bridge. I intend to widen this bridge to provide a 24 ft. carriageway with two footpaths and to start work soon after entry to the land has been obtained.

A20 Road, Harrietsham

54.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give his attention before the August Bank Holiday to a letter recently sent to him by the hon. Member for Maidstone, concerning the pedestrians' difficulty on the A.20 road in the parish of Harrietsham.

Victoria Station-Vauxhall Bridge Road Area (Road Improvements)

56.

asked the Minister of Transport what proposals he has for the improvement of the flow of traffic in the Victoria Station-Vauxhall Bridge Road area.

Road improvements planned to start this year should improve the flow of traffic in this area. I am sending details to my hon. Friend. I am also examining a number of proposals for improving traffic conditions meanwhile, including those put to me by my hon. Friend.

Camberwell Circus (Traffic Congestion)

57.

asked the Minister of Transport what proposals he has for the improvement of the flow of traffic at Camberwell Circus.

I am considering measures to overcome traffic congestion at this junction, including the proposals put to me by my hon. Friend.

Tottenham Court Road-Gower Street (One-Way Traffic)

58.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now convert the experimental one-way system in Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street into a permanent scheme, with such minor modifications as may be necessary; and if he will give an assurance that the one-way scheme will not prejudice the construction of the Euston Road underpass already approved.

This scheme is due to continue on an experimental basis up to the end of October. I shall decide well before then whether to make it permanent. So far it has gone well. If it is made permanent the construction of the Euston Road underpass will not be affected.

Road Improvements, Tees-Side

59.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the need to improve productivity and increase exports, he will revise his forward plans for road construction so as to give a higher priority to the building of roads which will facilitate the movement of workers, materials and finished products to and from the industrial undertakings and the docks of Tees-side.

I already give priority to the needs of industrial and port traffic. My ourrent road programme includes some schemes on Tees-side and I shall continue to have regard to the needs of the area in the future.

Piccadilly Circus (One-Way Traffic)

60.

asked the Minister of Transport what are his conclusions on the experimental one-way working carried out in the Piccadilly area a fortnight ago.

I have at present nothing to add to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Clive Bossom) on 26th July.

Parking Facilities, London

61.

asked the Minister of Transport what consideration he has given to the report of the Association of Metropolitan Borough Engineers and Surveyors, a copy of which has been sent to him, that by 1972, under present plans, there will be parking space at meters and off-street garages for only 36,686 vehicles, leaving more than 10,000 motorists, who now park in inner London, without parking places; and what proposals he is considering to deal with that eventuality.

This report was made to the local authorities concerned, and it is they who are responsible for action in this field. My hon. Friend's calculation does not appear to take account of some relevant factors, including the provision of off-street parking for use with new buildings and the effect of parking charges on parking demand.

Road Programme

64.

asked the Minister of Transport why no classified road scheme of over £100,000 grant value has so far been considered by him for authorisation in the County of Bedfordshire for the years 1961–62, 1962–63 and 1963–64; and when he anticipates it will be possible to provide more effectively for the improvement of classified roads in this county.

I have had to limit the first three-year programme to those schemes which carry the highest priority throughout the country with particular regard to the urgent need to alleviate congestion in our cities. I regret that it was not possible to include all the schemes submitted. I am at present considering the programme for 1964–65 and hope to notify highway authorities later this year.

asked the Minister of Transport when he will give details about the five-year road programme upon which the Government have decided and which represents an increase above the present rate of expenditure on road improvement.

Expenditure in 1962–63 will be £90·5 million and will increase annually to give a total of approximately £540 million over the five years ending 1966–67.Last July I informed the House of a substantial increase in the provision for motorways and classified roads. We now propose to expand the trunk road programme. This will enable us to increase the work on trunk roads by approximately 50 per cent. from April next.

Baker Street-Gloucester Place (One-Way Traffic)

65.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has any plans for the improvement of traffic flow by means of one-way working in the Baker Street-Gloucester Place area. St. Marylebone.

Yes. I have prepared a scheme for one-way working in this area. The St. Marylebone Borough Council has agreed to co-operate in implementing it on an experimental basis. The essentials of the scheme are that northbound traffic would use Gloucester Place and southbound traffic Baker Street.

Doncaster By-Pass

asked the Minister of Transport what consideration he gave to allowing Members of Parliament to view the Doncaster by-pass before the official opening on 31st July.

I am always pleased to consider requests for visits of this kind by hon. Members, but I received none in the case of the Doncaster by-pass.

Road Schemes, Lancashire

asked the Minister of Transport if he will state the grounds on which he decided to allocate only £1 million to Lancashire out of a total of £68 millions for the whole country in his three-year classified road programme announced in April this year, in view of the fact that Lancashire accounts for nearly 10 per cent. of the United Kingdom population.

The three-year classified road programme is being concentrated mainly on the relief of urban congestion and consequently most of the funds will be spent in London, the major conurbations and the large County Boroughs. In addition to the schemes amounting to £1 million in grant value in the administrative county, the programme includes schemes to the value of nearly £4 million in the County Boroughs in Lancashire, and I have still to select schemes for 1962–63 and 1963–64 within the South East Lancashire conurbation.Lancashire has, in recent years, had a large share of the total provision for new road construction and will continue to do so for the next few years.

Swing Bridge, Lowestoft

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the delays in recent weeks resulting both from frequent closing and the obsolete size of the Lowestoft Swing Bridge, he will institute a survey to inform himself of the urgency of its replacement with a view to speedy action.

I have already informed the Lowestoft Borough Council that if it will arrange the necessary harbour works I am prepared to authorise the construction of a longer and wider bridge as it requested. I am awaiting its reply.

Road Improvements East Ilsley

asked the Minister of Transport what action he is taking to improve road traffic conditions at East Ilsley; and if he will state the reason for the delay in establishing a one-way system there.

I propose to make Orders for a system of one-way streets. Certain road works to enable the system to work smoothly will be started soon. I regret that the procedures necessary to authorise these works took longer than expected.The ultimate solution to the traffic problem in East Ilsley is the by-pass, which I intend to construct as soon as funds permit.

Traffic Signals, Parliament Square

asked the Minister of Transport whether a decision has been reached to install traffic signals at Parliament Square; and whether the passage of Members will be affected.

There has been a large increase in accidents in the Square. Many of these have occurred at times when police were not on duty and the installation of traffic signals would enable the junction to be controlled throughout the quiet hours as well as by day. Discussions have been going on between interested parties and it has been decided to install lights at two of the approaches to the Square. Some preparatory work, particularly that involving disturbance of the road surface, will he done during the Recess but the signals may not be in operation by the time hon. Members return. The signals will be turned off and the junction controlled by police up to midnight when the House or its Committees are sitting or at any other time when considered necessary.These arrangements have been discussed and agreed with the appropriate authorities of the House.

Transport

Road Safety (Car Design)

33.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the first progress report of the Road Injuries Research Group has concluded that, with regard to car design, the lesson from the injuries is that projections both inside and outside should be reduced to a minimum; and what steps he is taking to ensure that new cars do not continue to have these characteristics, which are the cause of unnecessary deaths.

Yes. We are in constant touch with manufacturers on this and all other aspects of road safety. Many of the measures recommended in the report are in fact standard practice in new cars.

Driving Tests

51.

asked the Minister of Transport if, in view of the failure of 53 per cent. of the persons who underwent driving tests during the year ended 13th July, 1961, he will investigate the main reasons for these large-scale failures.

Candidates fail the driving test mainly because they do not satisfy my examiners that they are competent to drive without causing danger to other road users. Inexperience or faulty instruction are the chief causes of failure, and I do not see What useful purpose would be served by an investigation of the kind suggested by the hon. Member.

Vehicle Testing Scheme

55.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of continuing divergence in the standards of tests of cars over ten years old; and whether examiners themselves are subject to unwarned inspection by officers of his Department.

66.

asked the Minister of Transport how frequently the periodic inspections of the vehicle-testing stations to ensure uniformity of fitness take place.

I am satisfied that the vehicle testing scheme is operating satisfactorily and that the standards laid down for the tests are being properly and fairly applied. All testing stations are subject to inspection without warning, and technical officers of my Department are constantly employed in this work. Every testing station is inspected at least twice a year; some more frequently.

Driving Test Examiners, Lanarkshire

asked the Minister of Transport how many full time driving test examiners are now employed in Lanarkshire; how many part time examiners are now employed; and how they are recruited.

The number of full time driving examiners in post in Lanarkshire is 27. No part time examiners are employed.Driving and traffic examiners are recruited through open competitions which are conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners. Competitions are advertised in the national press. Exceptionally, in 1960, a number of temporary examiners were recruited directly by my Department through the Ministry of Labour.

Safety Harness

62.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now arrange for all Government-owned cars and vehicles to be fitted with safety belts, or straps, as an example to other road users.

Officials of my Department are in consultation with officials of the Treasury and other Departments concerned about the fitting of harness to appropriate vehicles.

Rural Transport (Jack Committee's Report)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement of Government policy for rural transport, following the Report of the Jack Committee.

I have nothing to add at present to the replies given to Questions by the hon. Members for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) and Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) on 28th June.

Vehicles (Roadside Tests)

asked the Minister of Transport what plans he has, now that the periodic vehicle testing scheme is in operation, for bringing into effect the complementary scheme for the roadside test of vehicles, provided for in Section 67 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960.

Preparations have been made to start the spot check scheme early in September, and I intend shortly to make an Order bringing the Section into effect.

Shipping

Wreck, Brancaster (Removal)

52.

asked the Minister of Transport what action he has taken to secure the removal by the purchaser of the wreck from the channel of the harbour at Brancaster, Norfolk; when he expects the removal to be completed; and whether, in view of the danger to shipping and the difficulties for the fishermen there caused by the delay in removing this wreck, he will now himself reassume direct responsibility for the removal.

Continuous pressure has been put on Mr. Clark, the owner of this wreck, to begin the work of removing it. He has now said that he intends to start work immediately after the Bank Holiday.My right hon. Friend is unable to say how long it will take to complete the work, but it is in Mr. Clark's interest to proceed with it as rapidly as possible. There is no way in which my right hon. Friend can assume responsibility while Mr. Clark remains the legal owner.

Shipbuilding

53.

asked the Minister of Transport what was the tonnage of shipping being built in United Kingdom shipyards for registration abroad at the latest available date; and how this compares with the tonnage of shipping being built abroad for United Kingdom shipowners.

At 30th June some 310,000 gross tons of shipping were under construction in United Kingdom yards for registration overseas.At the same date the tonnage under construction abroad for registration in the United Kingdom was some 690,000 gross tons, of which some 360,000 gross tons were for companies whose principal place of business is located in the United Kingdom.

Shipbuilding Industry, Australia (Protection)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make representations to the Australian Government about their subsidies and other protective measures for shipbuilding, in view of the effect of this action upon the competitive ability of the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry.

The Australian Government have protected their shipbuilding industry for a number of years. A subsidy is paid on certain classes of vessels in order to equate their Australian costs with those of United Kingdom shipbuilders for comparable vessels. The permission of the Australian Government is also required before a vessel may be imported into Australia.Information has been sought on the circumstances in which such permission is granted and the replies which have been received are being studied.

Shipbuilding Industry, Canada (Subsidy)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make representations to the Canadian Government about their proposal to subsidise shipbuilding, in view of the adverse effect this will have upon the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry.

The views of the United Kingdom Government have been communicated to the Canadian Government and the question is under discussion with them. No formal reply has been received, but we hope to be consulted about the way in which the subsidy will be administered before detailed regulations take effect.

Railways

Westerham—Dunton Green Branch Line (Closure)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has now considered the recommendation of the Central Transport Consultative Committee that the Westerham—Dunton Green branch railway line should be retained.

I have carefully considered this case but I am unable to agree with the Central Committee's conclusion that closure of this line, and adoption of the railway's alternative proposals, would cause undue social hardship. I have therefore informed the Chairman of the British Transport Commission that he is free to proceed with the closure as soon as arrangements have been made for the necessary augmentation of the bus service. This will not be before the introduction of the winter time-table on 11th September and may be later.

Level Crossings

asked the Minister of Transport (1) in view of the danger to the public, how many level crossings are not manned by railway staff on Sundays; and how many of these are main line railway crossings;(2) in view of the need to secure the safety of the travelling public, what signs are erected on Sundays to indicate to drivers that a railway crossing is not manned by staff that day; what distance away these warnings are placed; and if he will now take the appropriate safety measures to ensure that all main line railway crossings are always manned by staff.

I am unable to say how many level crossings on British Railways and other railways in this country are not manned on Sundays. There are some 24,000 level crossings, of which the great majority are "occupation crossings" which are almost all on private roads and are not manned at all. Public level crossings are always manned except where special dispensation has been given. All public level crossings which are manned during the week are also manned on Sundays unless the line is closed on that day.The situation of a normally manned crossing being unattended on a Sunday when the line is open can only arise at a few "occupation crossings" which are manned because of the heavy road traffic on week-days. At all crossings of this type the gates are required to be kept normally closed across the road, and there are notices to this effect. No signs are provided at such crossings to indicate that they are not manned on Sundays, but I will consider whether they should be provided.

Post Office

Ruddymoor, County Durham (Sub-Office)

67.

asked the Postmaster-General what was the nature of his reply to a letter, dated 8th July, from the Croak and Willington Urban District Council, about the opening of a sub-post office in the mining village of Ruddy-moor, Crook, County Durham.

There is a Post Office within about half a mile of Ruddymoor, and two others just over a mile away. The council has been told that we should not be justified in opening an office in the village itself.

Building Work, North Cornwall (Trans-Atlantic Cable)

68.

asked the Postmaster-General what is the nature of the works being undertaken by his Department at Widemouth Bay, near Bude, in north Cornwall; and if he will make a statement.

A building is being erected at Widemouth Bay to house the terminal equipment of the new trans-Atlantic telephone cable to be laid in 1963 between this country and the United States. My right hon. Friend hopes that the building will be completed by next summer. He much regrets that the building work is at present giving rise to some local inconvenience, but, as my hon. Friend is aware, everything possible is being done to reduce this.

Sale Of Stamps (Knighton, Radnorshire)

72.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will review the decision made to disallow an application from the Knighton, Radnorshire, Urban District Council, for a stamp machine on Fronhir housing estate, in view of the fact that elderly persons and children find it difficult to fetch stamps from the post office three-quarters of a mile away with three road crossings and than the suggested postman stamp service is not convenient.

The provision of stamp machines in areas such as the Fronhir estate is a very uneconomical proposition, and my right hon. Friend is sorry that he would not be justified in agreeing to the council's request. He would be happy to arrange for a householder on the estate to have a licence to sell stamps if the council would allow this.

Tariff Changes (Minister's Statement)

73.

asked the Postmaster-General if he has completed his inquiry into how the substance of his proposals for increases in postal and telephone charges came to be prematurely divulged to the London daily newspapers; and if he will make a statement.

I have completed my inquiries. Neither my proposals nor the substance of them was divulged prematurely to any newspaper, and none of my proposals appeared in any newspaper, before I made my statement.

Post Offices (All-Purpose Service)

asked the Postmaster-General what percentage of post offices have now adopted the all-purpose service; and if he will make a statement on the results of this innovation.

About 60 per cent. or 850 of the 1,450 Crown Post Offices which are currently scheduled for introduction of all-purpose service are now operating the system. Another 350 offices should have it by about the end of this month and the balance during the coming year in conjunction with reconstruction or modernisation schemes.Where the system has been introduced the results are very encouraging. The quality of service has been improved, waiting time reduced and, generally, customers are showing that they prefer the new system to the old one.

Coding Experiments, Norwich And Luton

asked the Postmaster-General if he is satisfied with the success of the postal coding experiments in Norwich and Luton; and if he will now extend these experiments to other parts of the country.

The Norwich and Luton experiments are proceeding satisfactorily and we have good reason to be satisfied with what has been achieved un to the present. But there is still much to be done and it will be some considerable time before my right hon. Friend will be able to decide whether postal coding should be extended to other parts of the country.

London-Scotland-Ireland (Carriage Of Mail)

asked the Postmaster-General what plans he has for sending mail on the Vanguard aircraft with which British European Airways will be operating night flights between Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, from 1st November.

I have had discussions with B.E.A. and the new services will be used to carry mail between Scotland and London and the Home Counties. The latest posting times in London for first delivery in Edinburgh and Glasgow on the following weekday will be about two hours later than at present. There will also be improvements in services to other parts of Scotland and in the reverse direction. In total, about 30 million letters a year will be delivered earlier.B.E.A. have also announced new night flights between Belfast and London, and I shall use these to make equally substantial improvements in mail connections with Northern Ireland. Another 11 million letters a year will be delivered earlier.

Wireless And Television

Lineage

69.

asked the Postmaster-General what recent representations he has had from firms interested in the export of wireless and television equipment on the necessity for the adoption of a 625-line television system; and what replies he has sent.

Telephone Service

Boxmoor Exchange

70.

asked the Postmaster-General when he expects work to start on the construction of the new automatic telephone exchange for Boxmoor; and when the exchange will be ready for use.

As my hon. Friend knows, we have encountered town planning complications in connection with this scheme. My right hon. Friend now expects building work to start about August, 1962, and on this basis the new automatic telephone exchange should be ready for service in the spring of 1965. If my right hon. Friend can improve on this timetable he certainly will.

71.

asked the Postmaster-General what recent improvement he has been able to make in the present Boxmoor telephone exchange.

Several increases in staff and equipment have been made in recent years to meet the rapid growth in the number of subscribers and traffic at Boxmoor Exchange. The building has been extended this year to accommodate further switchboard positions. The service has improved since the beginning of the year, but it is still not satisfactory. My right hon. Friend is doing all he can to improve it.

Special Charge

74.

asked the Postmaster-General whether the special connection charge now payable by farmers and others more than three miles from a telephone exchange will be payable by all such subscribers.

No. The charge will be payable only by new subscribers for whom new construction is necessary. When an existing line is taken over as it stands the special charge will not be payable.

Orpington, Farnborough And Biggin Hill

asked the Postmaster-General how many applicants are waiting for connection to the Orpington, Farnborough and Biggin Hill telephone exchanges, respectively; what is the present average period between application and connection; and whether he will make a statement upon the position generally now that these three new fully automatic exchanges are in operation.

The figures for which my hon. Friend asks and the number of telephones connected in the last twelve months are given in the following table:

OrpingtonFarn boroughBiggin Hill
Number of applicants waiting for connexionNilNil1
Number of applications under inquiry or in course of being met827660
Average period between application and connexion3 weeks3 weeks4–5 weeks
Number of telephones connected in the last 12 months98749968
We hope to be able to connect the one waiting applicant in the Biggin Hill exchange area by October, 1961, when a new cable will be completed; other cables are planned for this area to cater for new building development.

Palace Of Westminster (Subscriber Trunk Dialling System)

asked the Postmaster-General when the new subscriber trunk dialling system will be introduced in the Palace of Westminster.

I am glad to inform the House that the new facilities will be introduced in the Palace of Westminster during the Recess. I hope they will prove useful to hon. Members.

Laos

75.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on the progress of the Geneva Conference on the situation in Iaos.

There has been only one development of importance since I spoke about Laos in the foreign affairs debate on 31st July: conversations are beginning in Phnom Penh between Prince Souvanna Phouma and representatives of the Government in Vientiane. These are to carry forward the process of national reconciliation begun at Zurich in June.

Kuwait

77.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations he had with the United States Government concerning support for the United Kingdom by the military forces of the United States of America before he decided to respond to the invitation from the Ruler of Kuwait to help Kuwait to resist threatened aggression from Iraq.

Tunisia (Security Council Meeting)

79.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the recent meeting of the Security Council dealing with the Tunisian complaint against France about Bizerta.

After some debate on 28th July the Security Council reassembled on the 29th to consider three draft resolutions about the situation in Bizerta. Two were sponsored by Ceylon, Liberia and the United Arab Republic, of which the first invited France to comply immediately with the terms of the interim resolution of 22nd July; the second invited France to enter immediately into negotiations aimed at the speedy evacuation of her forces from Tunisia. Both these resolutions received four votes. Six members of the Council (including the United Kingdom) abstained and the resolutions therefore failed.The third draft resolution, sponsored by Turkey, called for

"an immediate and full implementation of the resolution of the 22nd of July."

It received six votes (including the United Kingdom's) which is one short of the necessary majority.

The Liberian representative said that in these circumstances he would seek a special session of the General Assembly.

Congo (Mr Gauden)

80.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what United Kingdom or colonial subjects are under arrest in the Congo.

A British subject, Mr. Derek Gauden, is detained by the authorities of Kivu Province; they have undertaken to keep the local United Nations headquarters informed of developments. Mr. Gauden has been seen in prison by a United Nations representative who reported that he was suffering no ill-treatment. Her Majesty's Embassy is trying to arrange his release. I do not know of any other British subjects under arrest in the Congo.

Arab League Information Centre (Mr Rizk)

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that the person who until recently was Minister Plenipotentiary at the Lebanese Embassy has now been appointed first Director of the Arab League Information Centre in London; and whether he will be allowed to retain full diplomatic privileges and immunity whilst directing the activities of the Centre.

I am not aware that Mr. Rizk has ceased to be a member of the diplomatic staff of the Lebanese Embassy in London.

East Germany

78.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, as a contribution to the solution of the Berlin problem, Her Majesty's Government will take the initiative in the de facto recognition of the East German Republic.

Employment

Northern Region

81.

asked the Minister of Labour what consideration he has given to representations as to the increasing difficulties in placing juveniles in employment in the North-East of England; and what steps he is taking to deal with the matter.

While the situation in the Northern Region is less good than in other regions, it is not correct to say that the difficulties are increasing. On the contrary, there has been a general improvement this year; unemployment among young people is lower and notified vacancies higher. Government policy continues to be to increase employment opportunities in the region.

Factories Act, 1937

82.

asked the Minister of Labour in view of the increase in factory accidents during the last year and the consequent need for injured factory workers to secure adequate recompense, if he will amend the Factories Act, 1937, to enable injured workers to have the same statutory right to immediate inspection of machines involved on the site of the accident as they have been available to miners in similar circumstances since 1911.

There is no evidence that the absence of a provision of this sort has created difficulties for injured factory workers. If the hon. Member has some particular case in mind, I would be grateful if he would supply me with the particulars.

Factory Workers (Dermatitis)

83.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the total number of persons who contracted dermatitis in manufacturing industries in the year 1960 and the total number of such cases voluntarily notified to the factory department by employers; what further steps he proposes to check the contraction of this disease; and when he proposes to make the disease notifiable under the Factories Act, 1937.

Statistics of the total number of workers who contracted dermatitis in 1960 are not available; 1,671 cases were voluntarily notified to H.M. Factory Inspectorate during the year. H.M. medical inspectors make frequent visits to factories in which cases of dermatitis are known to have occurred in order to advise occupiers on suitable precautionary measures.Therefore I do not think there is a case for making the disease notifiable under the Factories Acts.A new booklet on the prevention of industrial dermatitis is being prepared by my Department.

Trade Union Elections

84.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will invite the National Joint Advisory Council to draw up model rules for the constitution and conduct of industrial associations whether of employees or employed.

As stated in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) on 19th July, I have already written to the Trades Union Congress about the conduct of trade union elections.

Older Workers, London And Middlesex

85.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of persons over 50 years of age registered for employment at the employment exchanges in London and Middlesex at the latest convenient date this year, and the comparative figures for 1960.

9,626 such persons were registered as wholly unemployed on 12th June, 1961, compared with 10,832 a year earlier.

Disabled Persons, London And Middlesex

86.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of disabled persons registered for employment at the employment exchanges in London and Middlesex, at the latest convenient date this year, and the comparative figures for 1960.

Tilbury Dock (Industrial Disputes)

asked the Minister of Labour haw many days were lost at Tilbury Dock through industrial disputes, and how many through lack of work from 1st January, 1961, to the nearest convenient date.

The National Dock Labour Board informs me that from 1st January to 22nd July, 1961, no days were lost at Tilbury Dock through industrial disputes. During the same period the daily average number of dock workers proving attendance at this dock was 324, which represents approximately 50,000 man days over the period.

Royal Navy

Admiralty Departments (Transfer To Bath)

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how many persons are involved in the plan to move two Admiralty departments from London to Bath; and what is his estimate of the number of persons who will need assistance in buying new homes in the area of the new site.

There are some 170 persons due to go to Bath. It is hoped to permit some measure of choice to staff and in consequence it is not possible to say exactly how many householders will be moving. Possibly 50 per cent. are householders who will be entitled to transfer grants and other removal expenses under the regulations for the Civil Service.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what he estimates the total cost will be in moving two Admiralty departments from London to Bath within the next eighteen months; and if he will cancel this plan, in view of the economic situation.

The initial costs covering both the cost of transfer and of office accommodation may be between £60,000 £70,000.My noble Friend is not prepared to cancel this plan, which will increase efficiency by concentrating two departments.These moves are in accordance with Government policy on provincial dispersal and with recommendation 6 of the Report of the Select Committee which considered the Admiralty headquarters organisation.

Security Department (Director)

87.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty who has been appointed as Director of Security in his Department; and what are his qualifications for this position.

After considering a number of different candidates my noble Friend has decided to appoint Colonel J. L. A. Macafee, R.M., as the first Director of the new Security Department.Colonel Macafee has the necessary background and experience for this post. He has served as a Provost Marshal, as a Staff Officer Intelligence and, for the last seven months, as a Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence Department directly concerned with security. He has also commanded two different Royal Marine Commandos.

British Army

Personal Case

88.

asked the Secretary of State for War why 2296775 Corporal David Windsor, Royal Army Service Corps, now in Germany, was refused compassionate leave to visit his dying son in Malta, in view of the fact that Army Headquarters in Malta had recommended a class A priority.

Corporal Windsor was not refused compassionate leave; but because he was domiciled abroad his case had to be specially considered. Nonetheless to avoid delay his leave was authorised at once. He arrived home in Malta within 48 hours of being summoned.

89.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that 2296775 Corporal David Windsor, Royal Army Service Corps, had to pay £35 expenses to go from Germany to visit his dying son who died two days after the father's arrival; and if he will take steps to reimburse this soldier for his loss.

In compassionate cases of this sort a soldier is entitled to a free passage to the United Kingdom. Although Corporal Windsor lives in Malta he is of course only entitled to the normal concession. The quickest way to reach his home was found to be via London. That part of the journey was free. The £35 he paid was the cost of the fare on to Malta. I regret he is not entitled to a refund of this cost.

asked the Secretary of State for War, having regard to the fact that 2296775 Corporal D. Windsor, an Englishman resident in Malta, on a British engagement with a British income tax code number, was not entitled to compassionate leave because he came from Malta, if he will take steps

1st April, 19591st April, 1961 (a)
H.Q.Out-stationsTotalH.Q.Out-stationsTotal
Personal Assistants10431135152100252
Shorthand Typists106669775112760872
Machine Operators (b)928319231091,0321,141
NOTES:
(a) The 1961 figures include staff transferred from the ex-Ministry of Supply since April, 1959, and are therefore not directly comparable with those figures.
(b) These figures comprise staff designated as Machine Operators and assistants (including Chief and Senior grades of Operators) who are employed full-time on accounting, punched card and calculating machines. Staff not classified as Machine Operators, e.g., those using duplicating, photoprinting machines and the like are not included; nor are industrial machine operators.

Ministry Of Aviation

Air Transport Licensing Board

91.

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will introduce legislation to ensure that the Air Transport Licensing Board shall not grant a licence to any company to operate charter or other flights unless it is satisfied that the company has sufficient aircraft available to carry the number of passengers likely to use the air services offered by the company.

to place all soldiers serving in the forces on an equal basis regarding compassionate leave.

Vickers Vigilant Anti-Tank Weapon

90.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now consider the purchase of a number of Vickers Vigilant anti-tank guided missiles for the British Army.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the full answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) on 19th July. I have nothing to add to that.

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for War how many personal secretaries, shorthand typists and machine operators were employed in his department in May, 1959, and May, 1961.

Trade And Commerce

North-East

92.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that new jobs being provided in the North-East of England are still insufficient to keep up with the demand; and, in view of this, what further measures he proposes to introduce in order to improve employment prospects in this part of the country.

My right hon. Friend is well aware of the need for further industrial development in the North-East. The Government, are through their distribution of industry policy, encouraging such development and considerable progress has already been made. The rate of unemployment for the Northern Region in July this year was 1·9 per cent., the lowest since December, 1957. My right hon. Friend does not consider that any additional measures are required.

Local Employment Act, 1960

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications for assistance under the Local Employment Act, 1960, have now been received from England, Wales, and Scotland, respectively; and how many have been granted or rejected or are still under consideration.

The following table sets out the information requested in respect of applications for financial assistance under the Local Employment Act up to 17th July, 1961:

Applications receivedOffers of assistanceApplications unsuccessfulUnder consideration or awaiting information
England2501079845
Wales78174219
Scotland2307810250

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications have been received from South Caernarvonshire for assistance under the Local Employment Act, 1960; and how many have been granted or rejected or are still under consideration.

Six applications for financial assistance under Local Employment Act have been received from South Caernarvonshire. Two offers of assistance have been made, two applications have been unsuccessful and two are under consideration.

Ministry Of Health

Wages And Salaries

93.

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he will make a statement on the action he intends to take in relation to agreements reached by the Whitley Councils for the National Health Service and awaiting his approval;(2) what instructions have been given to his representatives on the management side of the Whitley Councils for the National Health Service in relation to the Government's new economic measures.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 31st July, to the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson).

Hospitals

Nurses

asked the Minister of Health if he will give the approximate number of vacancies for fully qualified and trainee nurses in the hospital service at the latest available date; and how this figure compares with a year ago.

I understand that 8,863 vacancies for State registered and enrolled nurses and 9,271 vacancies for student and pupil nurses in the hospital service in England, Wales and Scotland were current at offices of the Ministry of Labour at 31st December, 1960. Comparable figures for 31st December, 1959, were 8,256 and 9,338 respectively.

Housing

Rents

95.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs, in view of continuing rent increases, what action he proposes to take to assist tenants who are in difficulties as a result of decontrol.

The Government have no intention of interfering with the decontrol provisions of the Rent Act; but last August I sent a circular to local authorities in the Greater London area, suggesting ways in which they could help tenants who were in difficulties, and inviting them to consider compulsory purchase in cases where tenants were in danger of being made homeless under threat of exorbitant rents. This circular remains valid, and its contents have attracted wide publicity. I do not think that any further action on my part is called for.

Education

Pwllheli Grammar School (Remodelling Scheme)

asked the Minister of Education when a new gymnasium will he provided for Pwllheli Grammar School, Caernarvonshire.

Discussions are now going on between my Department and the local education authority about the remodelling of this school. I cannot yet say whether the building of a gymnasium, apart from the remodelling scheme generally, will prove to be practicable.

National Finance

Goya Picture (Duke Of Wellington)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has a statement to make about Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington.

Yes. The House will recall that Mr. Charles Wrightsman, who purchased this picture at auction at Sotheby's on June 14th for £140,000, subsequently offered it to the Trustees of the National Gallery for that sum. I am now glad to be able to inform the House that, following an approach by the Government to the Trustees of the Wolfson Foundation, the National Gallery Trustees have received from them the promise of a contribution of £100,000 towards the purchase of this picture, and I have agreed to invite Parliament to approve a special Exchequer grant of £40,000 towards it. Pending the receipt shortly of this contribution from the Wolfson Foundation the whole sum required to enable the National Gallery Trustees to accept Mr. Wrightsman's offer is being advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund.I would like to take this opportunity of expressing the Government's gratitude to the Wolfson Foundation for the most generous and public spirited bene- faction to the National Gallery Trustees which has made the purchase of this outstanding picture possible. The National Gallery Trustees have asked to be associated with the Government in this expression of gratitude and I am glad to do this. We would also like to express appreciation of Mr. Wrightsman's offer of the picture to the Trustees.The Government have always regarded the purchase of such artistic masterpieces for the nation as being a very suitable matter for partnership between Government action and private benefaction and the prospective purchase of this important and historic Goya portrait on this basis will provide an excellent example of such partnership in action.

Home Department

Bookmakers' Permits And Betting Office Licences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the number of bookmakers' permits and the number of betting office licences that have been granted for the Metropolitan Police district and for such other areas in Great Britain for which the information is conveniently available.

I regret that the figures are not yet complete, even for the Metropolitan area; and I do not think it would be appropriate to give the information in an incomplete form.

Pensions And National Insurance

Sickness Benefit

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will amend the regulations to allow the payment of sickness benefits for periods spent abroad, for example with sons and daughters who have emigrated, to patients suffering from incurable diseases.

The regulations already allow the payment of sickness benefit to those who go abroad temporarily for the specific purpose of being treated for an illness which began before they left the country. I am afraid that it would not be practicable to extend this.

Scotland

Chief Constables (Appointment)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the vacancies for chief constable filled in Scotland over the last five years, and state in each case, the date and if the appointed officer was serving locally.

The information asked for is as follows:

Appointments of chief constable in Scotland since 1st January. 1956
9. 4.56Paisley
1. 6.56Dunbarton
16. 4.57CoatbridgeOfficer serving locally.
7. 7.57Scottish North-Eastern Counties.
1. 1.58LanarkshireOfficer serving locally.
1. 1.58Hamilton
8. 4.58Berwick, Roxburgh and Selkirk.Officer serving locally.
28. 7.58Hamilton
10.11.58Stirling and Clack-mannan.
22.12.58GreenockOfficer serving locally.
15. 5.59OrkneyOfficer serving locally.
1. 1.60GlasgowOfficer serving locally.
15. 8.60Dundee
29. 6.61ArgyllOfficer serving locally.

Classified Roads (Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give for each county and large burgh, respectively, the total of classified road grants requested for the period 1961–62 to 1963–64 which amount to £20,430,000.

The requests made by individual highway authorities for grants in respect of major improvements to classified roads for the years 1961–62 to 1963–64 are shown in the table below.My purpose in asking for these requests was to obtain information which would help in the planning of a three-year programme within the limits of the funds likely to be available for schemes of this type. No assurance was given that the proposals included by highway authorities in their requests could necessarily be accepted for grant within the three-year period.

CountiesGrant Requested
£
Aberdeen316,000
Angus176,000
Argyll698,000
Ayr404,000
Banff188,000
Berwick139,000
Bute165,000
Caithness207,000
Clackmannan226,000
Dumfries82,000
Dunbarton723,000
East Lothian225,000
Fife291,000
Inverness692,000
Kincardine266,000
Kirkcudbright203,000
Lanark1,282,000
Midlothian337,000
Moray and Nairn 51,000
Orkney47,000
Peebles79,000
Perth and Kinross469,000
Renfrew509,000
Ross and Cromarty1,0271,000
Roxburgh267,000
Selkirk135,000
Stirling473,000
Sutherland776,000
West Lothian123,000
Wigtown67,000
Zetland69,000
11,156,000
Large BurghsGrant Requested
£
Aberdeen643,000
Airdrie31,000
Arbroath57,000
Ayr121,000
Coatbridge292,000
Clydebank370,000
Dunbarton27,000
Dumfries212,000
Dundee551,000
Dunfermline46,000
Edinburgh478,000
Falkirk784,000
Glasgow3,084,000
Greenock316,000
Hamilton122,000
Inverness231,000
Kilmarnock84,000
Kirkcaldy171,000
Motherwell97,000
Paisley455,000
Perth110,000
Port Glasgow536,000
Rutherglen24,000
Stirling433,000
9,275,000
NOTE—The figures are given to the nearest £1.000.

Road Programme

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Scottish road programme for the five years 1962 to 1967.

Expenditure in 1962–63 will be £12 million and will increase annually to give a total of approximately £671 million over the five year period 1962–67.In my statement on 28th July, 1960, I informed the House of my plans for classified roads over the five year period 1961–66 and of my intention to double the trunk road programme in 1961–63. The classified road programme will continue in 1966–67 at about the same level but my trunk road programme over the whole period will now run at a level rather higher than I envisaged last year.

Uganda

Slaughter Of Animals (Bunyoro District)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that, notwithstanding the assurances given to Sir Julian Huxley, when he visited Uganda on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, that no further wild animals would be slaughtered in the name of Tsetse Fly Control, that the Uganda Legislative Council has just approved a further slaughter project in the Bunyoro district; if he is aware that this method of tsetse fly control has invariably failed in the past; and if he will take steps to prevent this further reduction in African wild life.

I understand that no assurance was given. At a meeting which Sir Julian attended an official stated as an expression of hope and intention that a particular operation would be the last of its kind. This statement was made in good faith, but late in 1960 a serious and unforeseen threat to cattle country in Bunyoro from tsetse fly became apparent. Game elimination is a remedy of last resort which everyone dislikes, but the Uganda Government decided that circumstances in the area affected required the adoption of this method. The reasons for this decision were that the area is not one where game can be preserved in the long run, the need was urgent and insecticidal spraying would not have eliminated the fly permanently. I should not think it right to intervene in this matter.

Technical Co-Operation

Voluntary Service Overseas

asked the Secretary, Department of Technical Co-operation what contribution Her Majesty's Government will make to Voluntary Service Overseas during 1961–62.

Voluntary Service Overseas plans to send about 150 volunteers overseas this year. I am very glad to say that to help in these plans Her Majesty's Government have promised £17,500.

Ministry Of Works

House Of Commons (Accommodation)

asked the Minister of Works whether he will make a statement about the scheme for providing additional accommodation in the roof space over the Committee rooms upstairs.

The cost of this scheme was thought likely to be of the order of £300,000 and funds were provided in the Estimates to enable the work to be started this month. Now that the full scope of the scheme is known and further consideration has been given to the interruptions to the work which will be inevitable while Parliament is in Session, the provisional estimate has been increased to nearly £500,000.The House is aware that my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is taking steps to limit future capital investment in the public sector to a level which will not overstrain our resources and he has therefore proposed to me, and I have agreed, that this roof space scheme should be postponed. I am sure that the House will agree that in present circumstances this is the right decision. The other recommendations of your Committee on Accommodation for providing additional accommodation for Members will not be affected by this decision, and the Government accepts them.