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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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Royal Air Force

Sovereign Base Areas, Cyprus (Private Trading)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will make a statement about the extent of the preferential arrangements granted to Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes as against private firms operating in the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

Within military stations and cantonments, it is the policy of the Services, in Cyprus as elsewhere, to permit private trading only to the extent that the facilities provided by N.A.A.F.I. need to be supplemented. Elsewhere in the Sovereign Base Areas private trading is permitted either where there is a military requirement for it or, if there is no military requirement, where the authorities of the Republic raise no objection under Appendix "O" to the Treaty. In addition, N.A.A.F.I. is, of course, permitted to import goods free of duty for sale to members of the forces to the extent provided in the Treaty.

While a N.A.A.F.I. monopoly in the military establishment is obviously justified, does not the Minister agree that to extend the monopoly to the whole of the base area is grossly unfair to both British and Cypriot traders who used to deal with all these families before Cyprus became a republic? Will he confirm that N.A.A.F.I. is not opening shops in the Republic itself?

I think that my hon. Friend did not quite catch what I said. Outside the cantonments but in the Sovereign Base Areas private trading is permitted in two sectors, either where there is a military requirement for it or where the authorities of the Republic raise no objection when there is no military requirement. In accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, there are certain N.A.A.F.I. establishments outside the base areas. As my hon. Friend knows, we have certain retained sites within the Republic.

As so many of the families live outside the base areas, is it not for their convenience to have N.A.A.F.I. shops, for example, in Nicosia?

Yes. I think that they do benefit where there are retained sites outside. Where they live outside it is a great help to have N.A.A.F.I.

Does not my right hon. Friend's reply indicate that N.A.A.F.I. still has a veto, even though not a complete monopoly, in the base areas? Is it not a fact that many of these so-called private enterprise shops and kiosks which operate in the base areas are licensed by N.A.A.F.I.

I do not think that N.A.A.F.I. has a veto. It is in the hands of the Service commanders to decide whether there should be private trading either within the cantonments or outside them; that is, where there is no military requirement, where the Services are indifferent, the decision remains with the republican authorities in accordance with Appendix O of the Treaty.

Queen's Colour Squadron


asked the Secretary of State for Air what was the cost during the last financial year of the Royal Air Force Queen's Colour Squadron; and how many funerals, guards of honour, drill demonstrations and other ceremonies, respectively, it took part in during that period.

In the last financial year the Queen's Colour Squadron cost about £80,000 and had 112 engagements. These included 11 funerals, 27 guards of honour, 35 drill demonstrations and 39 other ceremonies.

In view of the cuts that the Government are making in much more desirable social expenditure, will the right hon. Gentleman consider cutting very drastically the expenditure on this unit? Can he continue to justify as his predecessors have done over the last two years, over 100 fit men attending funerals and as guards of honour when cuts are being made in much more essential social services?

Yes, Sir. I am satisfied that the Queen's Colour Squadron performs an extremely valuable task in the functions of the Royal Air Force. The hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that a good deal of ceremony inevitably attaches to military life. If there were not a Queen's Colour Squadron the burden which it carries would fall on the individual Commands which would have to use time for training at the expense of other duties.

While agreeing that some ceremonies are a necessary part of military life, may I ask the Secretary of State whether he is sure that the men and money involved here are being put to the best use? Will he not have another look at the whole of this problem?

I have investigated this matter before and I investigated it again, when the hon. Gentleman tabled the Question. I am satisfied that this is the most economical way of meeting ceremonial commitments from the point of view of the useful deployment of men in the Royal Air Force.



asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps he is taking to overcome the shortage of trained aircrew in the Royal Air Force.

We are not at present short of trained aircrew. But we could face a serious shortage within a few years if recruiting does not improve. We have accordingly introduced more attractive terms for direct entry officers. We have extended publicity. We are improving our school liaison arrangements and providing more opportunities for headmasters and careers masters to visit Royal Air Force units. We are also trying to make our selection methods better and to cut down training wastage. There has been some improvement in recruiting in recent months, but it is still too early to say whether this will be maintained.

Is it not the case that enrolments in the initial training schools are declining? Are they declining because there is a widespread feeling that the trainees are getting their air experience too late? Would the right hon. Gentleman look into that aspect of the problem?

As I have said, there has been some improvement in recent months, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is very important to introduce air experience into the flying training of young men as early as possible.

Can the Secretary of State say whether he has anxieties about reaching the target of the Royal Air Force by 1st January, 1963, in view of what he has just said?

The Question is directed to aircrew. The numbers concerned in aircrew are small and we shall not be short of aircrew art the end of this year. The shortage is not now in aircrew but in the intake, and this could have serious repercussions later.

Flying Scholarships


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has any plans for widening the basis on which flying scholarships are awarded.

In addition to the 350 flying scholarships now awarded to members of the Air Cadet organisations we plan to make available 100 flying scholarships a year to boys who are attending schools at which there is no unit of the Air Training Corps or Royal Air Force Section of the Combined Cadet Force. Candidates for these scholarships will have to pass the same medical, educational and other tests as volunteers for aircrew. With permission, I will circulate further details of this scheme in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that Answer, which I think is most encouraging. Will this new scheme in any way prejudice the existing scheme under which flying scholarships are awarded to members of the Air Cadet organisation?

No, Sir. I am glad that my hon. Friend has asked that question. The new scheme is independent of and additional to the existing one.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that boys in the Air Cadet organisation who are really interested will carry on?

The object of this scheme is to catch boys in those schools where there is not a unit of the Air Training Corps or a Royal Air Force section of the Combined Cadet Force. There are schools which have not either of those facilities, and we think that there might well be boys in them who would like to join the Royal Air Force.

Following are the details:

It has been decided that 100 flying scholarships, similar to those at present awarded to members of the A.T.C. and the R.A.F. Section of the Combined Cadet Force, should be made available under certain conditions to boys who do not belong to either of those organisations. Each scholarship will entitle the holder to free tuition in flying up to the standard of the Pilot's "A" licence at a civil flying club. Tuition will not begin until the pupil is 17.
This new venture will not prejudice in any way the present scheme for the award of flying scholarships to members of the Air Cadet organisations. The number of scholarships available under this latter scheme is very much larger—it is at present 350—and boys who belong to Air Cadet organisations will consequently continue to have a very much better chance of obtaining an award than those who do not. Very broadly, the conditions which will require to be satisfied before an award can be made under the new scheme include the following:
  • (a) A candidate should be attending a school at which there is no unit of the Air Training Corps or R.A.F. Section of the Combined Cadet Force.
  • (b) He should be genuinely interested in the possibility of joining the R.A.F.
  • (c) He should have passed the medical, educational and other tests which are applied to volunteers for aircrew duties.
  • The new scheme is still being worked out in detail.

    Mirage Iv Aircraft


    asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will consider the purchase from Sud Aviation of a number of Mirage IV aircraft for service in the Royal Air Force.

    We have, of course, considered the Mirage IV project, but have 'concluded that there is no need for us to buy it.

    Tsr2 Aircraft


    asked the Secretary of State for Air what consultations he has had with the Minister of Aviation with a view to expediting the entry of the TSR2 aircraft into squadron service in the Royal Air Force.


    asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will take steps to expedite delivery of the TSR2 aircraft.

    Questions on development are, of course, for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation, but I am in close touch with him about the progress of work on the TSR2.

    We and the firm are naturally doing all we can to bring this very advanced aircraft into service as soon as possible.

    Bearing in mind that the V-bomber force will be obsolete in the next two or three years, will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the bringing into service of the TSR2 is regarded as a matter of urgency?

    As I reject the assumption on which the hon. Gentleman bases his supplementary question, I should not like anything that I say to appear to give credence to the views which he seems to hold on this matter. However, we shall do everything we can to introduce the TSR2 as soon as possible, but it is not related to the V-force, and, indeed, is not regarded as either a substitute for a V-bomber or a supplement to the V-force.

    Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is about four years since we first heard about this aircraft in the Air Estimates? Will he either not talk about the aircraft or deliver it to the Royal Air Force? While we recognise that he has only part responsibility in this matter, is it not the case that often the Royal Air Force's change of mind about requirements is a factor in the delay in getting aircraft into service?

    With respect, I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the position. The development of a modern aircraft takes anything from seven to ten years. Unless we can give the House some information on early trends in our thinking—and, as I say, it takes from seven to ten years before we can get the final result into service—we cannot be in a position to give hon. Members the information which they ought to have on which to base their judgments. I do not think that we should be taken to task because we have been talking about this aircraft for four years.

    The right hon. Gentleman was not in his present job then, but does he recall that when we began to argue about this aircraft it was said that it was better to go for it than to try to stretch the Blackburn Buccaneer to suit an R.A.F. rôle? It was then said that the TSR2 would be available in service in 1964. Is the right hon. Gentleman now saying that there is no chance of that?

    I am not saying anything about delivery dates on this subject. All that I have said is that we regard this aircraft as a good aircraft, that we shall press on with plans for its introduction and that we think that it is progressing satisfactorily.

    Is it not the case that the French already have in production the Mystere IV, which has a very similar performance to that of the TSR2?

    We think that the TSR2 is the only aircraft which will exactly fit our requirement in the time scale that we are considering.

    Transport Aircraft


    asked the Secretary of State for Air how many Belfast transport aircraft he expects to have in service in 1964.

    I am not prepared to forecast the detailed phasing of deliveries so far ahead.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the considerable disquiet which is felt about the introduction of the Belfast aircraft? Is it not the case that there have been second thoughts and that a larger form of Belfast aircraft is to be introduced in 1965 and 1966?

    Bearing in mind that aft present we have no strategic transport aircraft of real efficiency, is this not a serious situation, and will the Secretary of State give it careful consideration?

    The hon. Member is once again making a false assumption. It is quite untrue to say that we have no good freighter aircraft. We have some extremely good freighter aircraft, as the Kuwait operation proved the other day.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of his colleagues two or three years ago gave delivery dates which, it is now obvious, will not be fulfilled for various technical reasons? As there may be a gap of at least five years before Britain has this type of heavy aircraft, even with the dumping of supplies in different paints of the Commonwealth, will my right hon. Friend consider the matter to see whether we cannot borrow from the Americans at peppercorn rent suitable aircraft to see us through what must be difficult months and years ahead?

    According to my information, there is no aircraft that we could borrow in the time scale that would fill the bill far which the Belfast is required. I should also point out that the Bill for which it is required—that is to say, the freight which it is expected to carry—will also not be in general service for some time. [Interruption.] Although the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) may consider this a cause for jest and laughter, it seems to me that it is an example of good planning, upon which hon. Members opposite so often pride themselves.

    Does the Secretary of State claim that it is good planning to have neither the things to carry nor the things with which to carry them?

    Good planning is to match the equipment and the aircraft at the appropriate time.


    asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will state all the types of aircraft available as strategic freighters and the maximum weight and size of equipment each can carry; what are his total requirements for future strategic freighter aircraft; and what steps he is taking to meet these.

    The Britannia, which has a door size of about 6ft. by 7ft., will carry 15 tons for 2,000 miles. The Hastings and the Beverley—and in future the Argosy—offer some freighting capability over the same range of between 2 and 4 tons. We shall later on need to be able to move bulkier loads too expensive to stockpile and for these we have ordered the Belfast. As I have said, the Belfast will be in service by the time these requirements arise.

    Does the Secretary of State claim that an aircraft that takes freight only through a door is really a freighter? Secondly, while one appreciates the right hon. Gentleman's concern in the distant future to have aircraft to match the equipment then coming forward, would it not be a good idea to have some strategic freighter capacity to move the equipment in the event of its being called upon to be moved within the next five years?

    We moved armoured cars to Kuwait. I would have thought that that showed that we had a freighter which worked.

    Ministry Of Defence

    Defence Expenditure


    asked the Minister of Defence what specific proposals he is considering for the reduction of defence expenditure; and to what extent they affect the nuclear weapons programme.


    asked the Minister of Defence the approximate reduction in defence expenditure he now proposes to make.

    The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson) : As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House on 25th July, I have put in hand a review of the defence programme to see what can be done to save expenditure, especially overseas expenditure. I have no statement to make about this at present.

    Is it not increasingly obvious that, in spite of collossal expenditure over the last few years, the Government are neither keeping pace in the nuclear arms race nor maintaining efficient conventional forces? Will the Minister therefore ensure that his review is a drastic reappraisal of the whole policy in order to produce a defence policy which the country can afford and believe in?

    The correct answer is to say that I do not agree with any of the bases of the hon. Member's supplementary question, so I find difficulty in answering.

    Is it not a fact that other Ministers have already announced serious cuts in housing, education and health? Is arms expenditure to be sacrosanct? Does the Minister remember that only recently, in the spring, he increased our arms expenditure by £40 million to the fantastic total of £1,660 million, or one-third of all Government expenditure? Would it not solve all our other problems if we could have a substantial cut here which would make war less likely, and not more likely, because it would reduce international tension?

    Perhaps when some other nations are willing to make major cuts in their armaments programme we will follow suit.

    Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, however fantastic the present figure may be, many of us feel that there is a case for increasing rather than reducing defence expenditure in order properly to preserve the peace?

    asked the Minister of Defence if, in view of the Changing nature of defence problems and the reductions now proposed by Her Majesty's Government in defence expenditure, he will issue a revised edition of the Defence White Papr.

    Does the Minister recollect that when the Defence White Paper was debated in this House he argued that this was the minimum amount of money necessary for defence and that now the Chancellor of the Exchequer has issued a directive saying that it is necessary to out overseas military spending? Can the Minister say who is speaking for the Government? Which is the Government's point of view? Is the Minister speaking for the Government in this matter of policy, or is the Chancellor of the Exdhequer?

    The hon. Gentleman should refer to paragraph 12 of the White Paper which, he will see, solves his dilemma for him.



    asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a further statement on Kuwait.

    Yes, Sir. As the House knows, withdrawals of forces from Kuwait began early in July and continued during the month. I circulated a list of the major units involved in reply to a Question last Wednesday by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). We are, of course, anxious to withdraw more as soon as the situation allows. I hope that it will be possible to begin more rotations soon.

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement. Can he say whether we have any up-to-date news about the three men who, unhappily, got lost? Having given the information of the withdrawal of major units, can the Minister confirm the figures that were extensively publicised last weekend that the total force left in Kuwait is now down to about 2,000 or 2,300 men? Thirdly, can he toil us something about the conditions of the men remaining there? Have the Kuwaiti authorities now agreed, for example, to open the schools, which are empty, so that our men can have the shelter that they would provide?

    Concerning the three men, I am afraid that I have nothing to add to the full statement made by my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, which indicated that as far as we know they have been well treated and looked after. We are trying to make contact with them and to see that they are released as soon as possible. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not want me to give a precise figure of the troops now in Kuwait. I can, however, say that they have been very largely reduced and, probably, more than halved from the original force that was there. I have had a further report on the welfare of the men. I understand from the Commander-in-Chief that all his needs are being met and that he is satisfied, from the point of view of amenities, medical care and all the rest that he has everything he needs to look after them properly.

    British Forces, Germany


    asked the Minister of Defence what action he is taking to bring the British forces in Germany up to establishment.

    Final decisions as to the reinforcement of British forces in Germany will not be taken until after the Foreign Ministers' meeting early in August. At this meeting we shall hope to concert plans with our Allies on the steps to be taken to strengthen the N.A.T.O. Alliance.

    In view of all the conflicting reports about the use of Territorials and Special Reservists, can the Minister confirm that these measures are no substitute for political action, which is the only way to settle this problem? Can he say whether we shall be diminishing the strength of our Strategic Reserve by using these men?

    There are many supplementary questions there. Perhaps I may answer by saying this. As the hon. Gentleman will see from my Answer, the detailed plans about how the N.A.T.O. allies may be strengthened must, in our view, await the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries. Naturally, in the meantime, we are looking over the possibilities. We have asked General Cassells to examine the strength of his forces and see what reasonable reinforcements he should receive and to take all the necessary preliminary steps. What I want to make plain is that the Government are not committed to any firm and decisive action until after the Foreign Secretaries have looked at the political situation.

    Is it not a fact nevertheless that the Rhine Army is so many thousands of men under establishment that in order to bring it up to full establishment some, at least, of the Reserve will have to be called up?

    No. I do not necessarily agree with the hon. Member's view. As I have said before, what steps we shall take in this way are not likely to be announced until after the Foreign Secretaries have met.

    Civil Defence


    asked the Minister of Defence, in view of paragraphs 39 to 42 of the Defence White Paper, to what extent he discussed developments in civil defence with the United States Minister of Defence during the latter's recent visit: and what changes he proposes.

    Is it not rather extraordinary that no question of defending the civil population should have been discussed between Mr. McNamara and the Minister? Is he aware that today's papers carry a statement by Mr. McNamara that 50 million people might be killed if an H-bomb were to hit the U.S.A. and that 10 million people could be saved by deep shelters and a defence policy based on that? Are we to assume, then, that the United States Government think these are essentials and what Mr. Kennedy says are the minimum for survival, but that our Government are doing nothing about it?

    On the contrary, earlier this year in the defence debate a considerable increase in expenditure on civil defence was announced.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman still stand by statements by himself and all his predecessors in that office that in the event of nuclear war the civil population of this country could not be defended at all? Is that still true?

    The general proposition that there is not yet satisfactory defence against the missile remains, and, therefore, if the missile is carrying a nuclear warhead, there is no means of stopping its arrival. However, of course, certain measures could be taken to minimise loss of life and casualties. Those steps are being taken, apparently, in the U.S.A., and will be taken here.

    South Africa


    asked the Minister of Defence whether a settlement has now been reached with the South African Government as to future defence arrangements; and if he will make a statement.

    I have nothing to add at present to the reply I made on 19th July to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway).

    Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that he will make a full statement when these defence talks are concluded? Would he consider very carefully, apart from general defence matters, that there should be no question of sending to the Republic of South Africa small arms which might be used in the imposition of the racial policy of apartheid?

    As the hon Gentleman knows, defence talks are only a relatively small part of the very complicated talks on the new status of South Africa. These are still going on. I imagine that a statement will be made on them when they are concluded, which will take account of any defence interests.

    Yes, but cannot the right hon. Gentleman answer the latter part of my hon. Friend's Supplementary question? In view of repeated statements by two Ministers of Defence in South Africa, would the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that no small arms are going to be supplied to that country for the purpose, for example, of repressing a revolt, if such should start?

    I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman knows, for this answer has been given a good many times in this House recently, that we do not announce in this House either for or against sales of any particular types of arms to another country.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise no difference, then, between the supply, for example, of naval vessels, and of small arms, the purpose of which we know very well in this country?


    Motor Cyclists (Training Scheme)


    asked the Minister of Transport if he will now make a statement on the expansion of the Royal Automobile Club and the Auto-Cycle Union scheme to train learner motorcyclists and scooter riders through tuition arrangements at motor-cycle clubs; and what will be the increased Government grants for this purpose.

    I am in touch with the Royal Automobile Club about an expansion of this most valuable scheme, but I am not at the moment in a position to make any further statement.

    While welcoming that statement from the Minister, may I ask whether he is aware, first, that the rate of accidents of motor cyclists during their first six months is equal to that during the next two years of their experience, and that it is tremendously important from the point of view of saving life that these experiments should be expedited? Will he resist any effort by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce expenditure upon this necessary activity?

    I am quite well aware that it is necessary to save as many lives as possible, and the motor cyclist is in an extremely vulnerable position. This scheme of the R.A.C. has done a great deal of good. They submitted some pro-proposals to me, and I in my turn have submitted some proposals to them of a rather different nature. We are now considering all these.

    British Transport Commission


    asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission that it should deal with all complaints when informed that unsatisfactory replies have been received from the regions.

    No, Sir. This is a matter of administration for the British Transport Commission to decide.

    Is the Minister not aware that several Members of Parliament have received very discourteous replies from Dr. Beeching when they have put complaints to him? Is he aware that I have been told by Dr. Beeching that he has no time to deal with complaints and will I not trouble him further? Would it not be a good idea if the right hon. Gentleman told Dr. Beeching that one of the points of a public service is that it should serve the public?

    I read part of a letter which Dr. Beeching sent to the hon. Member in The People on the same day that I read an article by the hon. Member. I read both most carefully. I believe that Dr. Beeching probably wants to delegate individual complaints so that he can concentrate on major policy. The larger the business the more important is the excellent principle of delegation.

    While not being aware of the correspondence between my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) and Dr. Beeching, may I ask whether it is not the fact that in the past, under Sir Brian Robertson, the relationship between Members and the Chairman of the Commission have been extremely good and every courtesy has been extended to Members of the House? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter and ensure that the same tradition will continue under Dr. Beeching?

    I am sure that Dr. Beeching will be courteous, but at the same time it is usual in major tasks to delegate questions of individual complaints. I think that that is a matter for Dr. Beeching's judgment.

    Is it not true that the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer who have a large amount of work to do delegate functions but at the same time have time to answer Members?

    That may be the case, but Dr. Beeching has taken over a large administration employing well over half a million people and this is a matter for him.

    Direction Indicators


    asked the Minister of Transport with which countries discussions are taking place to reach international agreement on a suitable and practicable range of intensities for traffic direction indicator lights; by whom such discussions were initiated; when they began; and whether any steps have been taken, in consultation with the manufacturers' and users' organisations, to formulate a standard acceptable to the United Kingdom Government.

    An international working party has since February, 1960, been investigating the intensities suitable for direction indicators by day and by night; it consists of technical experts from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and most Western European countries. Agreed recommendations were reached in April last which will in due course be submitted to the appropriate Committee of the Economic Commission for Europe. I propose to await the outcome of consideration by the Commission before deciding what standard of light intensity should be adopted in the United Kingdom.

    Is it really necessary to await this international agreement, which is taking such a very long time, about a matter which requires urgent action to deal with it at home?

    I think that any regulations about the intensity of light ought to be international in standard because of the way motor cars interchange and go through all the European countries nowadays.

    Can my right hon. Friend tell us how many reports he is awaiting from various committees before the House goes into Recess? It is very important to know how many reports we shall be likely to be getting before long.


    asked the Minister of Transport if she will state the number of accidents during the past two years attributable to the unnecessary brilliance of traffic direction indicator lights; and whether the problem has been the subject of investigation at the Road Research Laboratory.

    No figures are available of the number of accidents attributable to the cause mentioned by my hon. Friend. Representatives of the Road Research Laboratory have been taking an active part in international discussions aimed at producing acceptable intensity levels both by day and by night.

    Would my right hon. Friend agree that it is common knowledge that in many cases direction indicators are far too bright and that they not only cause a lot of inconvenience but can very easily lead to accidents?

    Yes, Sir. It is for that reason that the matter is being studied. The real problem is to get an unmistakable signal in bright sunlight and at the same time avoid dazzle at night.

    Driving Licences


    asked the Minister of Transport if he will introduce a system of graduated driving licences which would have regard to the speed and power of the vehicle.

    My hon. Friend's proposal would require legislation, but I am keeping it under review.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people will hope very much that he will give this very sensible idea clue and careful consideration, particularly as it originated in a supplementary answer which he gave to me?

    I am certainly attracted by the idea. I was very disappointed when I found that there was no statutory power for me to do anything about it.

    Car Rallies


    asked the Minister of Transport if he will take powers to control car rallies in the interest of public safety and amenity.


    asked the Minister of Transport in view of the inconvenience caused to local residents, if he will take powers to regulate motor rallies organised to take place during weekends and the hours of darkness.

    I am satisfied that, so far as safety is concerned, the provisions of the Road Traffic Act are already sufficient. I recognise that there may be an amenity problem, and I am considering whether any additional controls are desirable or possible.

    Will my right hon. Friend do something about it? Is he aware that there is a club in the Thames estuary which has had a rally through the north of Essex in July each year for three consecutive years despite complaints from the chief constable? Is he also aware that there is a growing number of complaints about this matter?

    If my hon. Friend will send me details I will consult the police to see whether we can get rid of the disturbance.

    Vehicle Tests


    asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that, in Leicestershire and elsewhere, certificates have recently been given for cars more than 10 years old, which are unsafe for use; and what steps he proposes to take in order to ensure that a more efficient test shall be applied before certificates are granted.

    Four cases of this kind in the Leicester area have been reported to my officers and have been thoroughly investigated; for the country as a whole the total is negligible in relation to the number of vehicles tested. Borderline cases are bound to occur, but the safeguards embodied in the scheme have proved themselves adequate to secure a very high degree of efficiency and uniformity.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that an inspector has stated categorically that cars have been passed when their lights, brakes and steering have been efficient even though their chassis have been so rotten as to make the cars completely unsafe? Does he propose to do something definite to make it clear to garages that they must not pass cars of that description?

    In that case, which occurred in the Leicester area, we made that clear to the garage concerned.

    Has the right hon. Gentleman read the authoritative article in The Times last week in which it was pointed out that a car was turned down by four garages, all for different reasons, and passed by a fifth, which indicates that the examination by the testing garages at the moment is wholly inadequate? What steps is he taking to deal with the matter?

    Every single complaint that comes in is investigated. The difficulty about newspaper reports is that details are so vague that they are not enough to permit the carrying out of any investigations.


    Hammersmith Flyover (Car Parking)


    asked the Minister of Transport to what extent the space under the Hammersmith flyover will be used as a car park in order to relieve local parking congestion and to encourage visitors to London to leave their cars at Hammersmith and use the underground railway into central London.

    I have no power to provide permanent facilities for oft-street car parking. I understand, however, that the local authority have plans for a car park to hold about 60 cars under the Hammersmith Flyover south of St. Paul's Church. They are considering whether any other areas would be suitable for that purpose, but the number of roads passing beneath the flyover severely limits the space available.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that under this Hammer. smith Ridgeway there really is a lot of space which is suitable for car parking and that it would be an ideal place—if he could persuade the local authority—for an experiment to get motorists to leave their cars there when coming into London?

    I will draw the attention of Hammersmith Borough Council to my hon. Friend's remarks.

    Pity Me, Durham (By-Pass)


    asked the Minister of Transport why the Pity Me by-pass on the A.1 road in Durham has not been constructed with a double carriageway.

    This by-pass is on the section of A.1 which will be replaced as a principal through route to the North by the Durham motorway. A three lane carriageway should be adequate for the traffic when the motorway is in use.

    Would it not have been much better when he was building this road to have made it a double carriageway? Is it not the only part of A.1 built in recent years which is not a double carriageway and will it not be many years before the Durham motorway, apart from the Durham by-pass, is constructed?

    No, I think this motorway when constructed will be adequate. It would have been folly to have put a motorway down and to have spent money on it when it was not needed, and I am sure that the Durham by-pass and motorway will draw the main traffic now using this road.

    asked the Minister of Transport why he was unable to accept the Durham Council's invitation to perform the opening ceremony of the Pity Me by-pass.

    While recognising the importance of this scheme, I regret that the many demands on my time prevented me from accepting the county council's invitation.

    May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that, while not discrediting the person who actually performed the ceremony and indeed paying a tribute to him because the visit was very well received, there is still a wide expression of opinion in Durham that either the right hon. Gentleman or his Parliamentary Secretary should have accepted this invitation? Is he also aware that this is not only because there is a general feeling about his not coming but because there is a feeling that he was rather mean in making this a three-lane carriageway instead of a dual carriageway when in the previous two years 107 miles of dual carriageway have been built right up to Durham and then the right hon. Gentleman begins to do something different?

    I did not intend any discourtesy. It was merely that there was no time to accept the invitation.

    Darlington By-Pass And Durham Motorways


    asked the Minister of Transport when it is expected that the principal route for through traffic by the Darlington by-pass and Durham motorways will be completed.

    It is too soon to say. The draft scheme extending the line of the Darlington by-pass is open to objection until 5th August. There are then other statutory processes to be completed. I hope, however, that construction of three major bridges on the bypass will begin before the end of this financial year. A draft scheme for the Durham motorway will be published shortly. The project is being prepared as quickly as possible.

    Is the Minister aware that it has been stated that one of the excuses for making the A.1 by-pass into a three-lane carriageway was that the new motorway was coming into being? Can we have an assurance, therefore, that the recent cuts in expenditure announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have no effect on this road?

    I can give the hon. Member that assurance, and I can assure him that we hope to start work this autumn on the three bridges which are an essential preliminary to this motorway. I think that that will assure the hon. Member that we are moving very fast indeed.

    Loampit Vale, Lewisham (Car Parking)


    asked the Minister of Transport what proposals he has for the provision of a general car park to be included in the redevelopment plan for Loampit Vale, Lewisham.

    I have made no proposals myself. The power to provide off-street car parks rests with local authorities. This redevelopment is a London County Council matter. I know of proposals to the council by the Lewisham Chamber of Commerce, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government answered a question from my hon. Friend about them yesterday.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that in a letter dated the 11th November from his Department it was stated that London County Council intended to provide this car park? Is he aware that it has now been made clear by the L.C.C. that it does not intend to provide these parking facilities which are desperately needed in Lewisham? In view of that earlier letter, what action does my right hon. Friend propose to take?

    I am not aware of an earlier letter and, as my hon. Friend has not given me notice that he would raise it, I am afraid that I cannot discuss it now.

    London-Yorkshire Motorway


    asked the Minister of Transport whether he will now make a further statement on the progress made with regard to the construction of the Leicester portion of the London-Yorkshire motorway.

    I have nothing to add at present to the Answer I gave to the hon. Member on 21st June.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his answer is shocking? Has he received a communication from the Leicester Chamber of Commerce asking him to deal with the matter at once because it is interfering with productivity, goods are not reaching the docks in time and, consequently large orders are being lost? Why does he not hurry up with the matter after seven years?

    I am following the procedure laid down by Parliament, which is that when we publish a side road order we have to wait three months for objections. I can only do what Parliament has laid down.

    In view of the wholly unsatisfactory reply, I propose to raise this matter again at an early date.


    New Cunard Liner


    asked the Minister of Transport if he will now announce the details of the mutual agreement between the Cunard Company and Her Majesty's Government, made by him in accordance with paragraph 26 of the Memorandum of Points of Agreement, Command Paper No. 1319; and to which shipyards work on contracts and subcontracts in connection with the new Cunard liner have been allocated.

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

    The tenders were returnable on 31st July and were opened yesterday. Their evaluation by Cunard and the Ministry has therefore only just begun. The final detailed agreement will not be ready until a later stage.

    Does the Minister not realise that many shipyards are waiting in suspense for the gigantic orders which may flow from this amazing, untimely and unexpected plan of Government opulence?

    Yes, I think we do recognise that, and we hope to be ready some time in October with the evaluation of the tenders, after which we shall get on as quickly as possible.


    asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the fact that the majority of the shareholders of the Cunard White Star Company have declared themselves against the building of a new "Queen" liner, whether he will withdraw the offer of a public loan to that company.

    No, Sir. I understand that the facts are not as my hon. Friend alleges.

    Is my hon. and gallant Friend not aware that of those who replied to the questionnaire 93 per cent. voted against the project? When such a large proportion of those replying were against it, when the House is uneasy about the project, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is calling for a great deal of cutting of expenditure, is it not time that this project was reconsidered?

    No, Sir. I understand that Mr. Gregory, who leads the opposition of shareholders, simply declared that he had the support of 10 per cent. or more, which is sufficient for him to requisition a special meeting of the company. But that is very different from saying that the majority of shareholders are opposed to the project. At the recent annual meeting the project was endorsed.

    If the Government persist in spending £18 million of public money on this plan, will the Minister at least see that the money is fairly distributed among the many shipyards which are in need of the work and which are capable and willing to do it?

    I am not sure that I follow the point made by the hon. and learned Member. I am afraid that it is not possible to award a contract to more than one shipbuilder or, in the case of Swan Hunter, to two tendering jointly.

    Docks And Harbours (Report)


    asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the report of the Rochdale Committee inquiring into the adequacy of docks and harbours; and if he will make a statement.


    asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the report of the Rochdale Committee into major docks and harbours; and if he will make a statement.

    The Committee is fully aware of the importance and urgency of its task and is making good progress, but it will be some time before its Report can be expected.

    Will my right hon. Friend agree that nothing would help the export trade more than an improvement in the efficiency of our docks? Would he keep a watch on this and expedite the report as quickly as possible?

    I can assure this House that Lord Rochdale is extremely anxious to complete this as soon as possible because of the very urgency of the need for it, but I am bound to point out to the House that it is a big subject which requires a great deal of study.

    Bearing in mind that 99 per cent. of the country's exports still go through the docks of this country, is my right hon. Friend aware that the decision of the Port of London Authority to increase the Tilbury Dock Scheme by £20 million is to be welcomed, and is he also aware that it is necessary to improve both management and labour techniques in the docks of this country?

    I realise the importance of that. That is why the terms of reference were drawn so wide, so that Lord Rochdale could include that in his inquiry.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply will give satisfaction to the workers and employers because it is necessary that the terms of reference should be wide, because this is a vast industry and we do not want a botched-up report but a report which will really be helpful to both sides?

    I agree. From the time of the appointment of the Committee I made it clear that it was not for witch-hunting and trying to apportion blame in any way, but for an inquiry into Management, mechanical handling, construction of docks, labour—every single thing possibly connected with docks.

    Nuclear Propulsion


    asked the Minister of Transport if he will now make a statement about the development of a nuclear-propelled merchant vessel.


    asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a further statement on the development of a nuclear-powered merchant ship.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that his replies to this question in recent months have become very pessimistic from the point of view of those Who want to see a prototype at sea? Now that my right hon. Friend has had tenders in hand for a whole year, when will he make up his mind about it? Will there be a statement during the Recess?

    I am afraid that this must be considered and is now being discussed in the light of the Chancellor's statement.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that now that Euratom is conducting projects in Germany, Holland, France and Italy, it would be quite disastrous if we abandoned this race? If the right hon. Gentleman is constitutionally unable to make a decision, will he ask the Prime Minister to designate another Minister who is able to make a decision?

    I am afraid that the hon. Member is not right about marine nuclear power in Europe. My information is not the same as his, but I will make a decision as quickly as possible.

    As the right hon. Gentleman is so constantly postponing decisions on major policy, may I ask whether it would not be a good idea if he changed the name of his Department to the "Ministry of Procrastination"?

    That might have been true at some time when certain people were present in the Ministry, but not now.

    Shipbuilding (Credit Facilities)


    asked the Minister of Transport what evidence he has of the credit terms being offered by shipbuilders overseas as a result of which British shipbuilders are losing orders.

    For export orders foreign shipbuilders are frequently offering credit for seven years after delivery, and sometimes for longer periods, covering 50 per cent. to 80 per cent. of the cost of the ship. The improved facilities from the Export Credits Guarantee Department are helping British shipbuilders to offer comparable terms for export orders. But no case has so far come to our notice of a British shipowner placing an order abroad simply because of credit terms, but I hope the investigation which Messrs. Peat, Marwick, Mitchell are carrying out will throw more light on the subject.

    The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that there was no evidence that British ship owners are buying vessels abroad because of the credit terms offered by foreign shipbuilders, but is there any evidence that foreign shipbuilders are offering terms to foreign ship owners which are causing British shipbuilders to lose business with foreign ship owners?

    Certainly, the credit terms are easier in many of the Continental yards with their own owners than they are here. I am not quite sure that I follow the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

    I asked whether British shipbuilders are losing orders to foreign ship owners because of the credit terms being offered by foreign shipbuilding yards.

    That is one of the things about which we hope to obtain more definite information from the present inquiry.

    South Africa


    asked the Minister of Transport what action he intends to take following his study of the legal position of South Africa in relation to the Commonwealth Merchant Shipping Agreement; and if he will make a statement.

    The legal position of South Africa in relation to the Commonwealth Merchant Shipping Agreement is under examination with the South African Government. It would not, however, appear to have any bearing on the present activities of British ships in South Africa.

    That is not the point. If I follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman correctly, can South Africa use her legal position or any legal quirk to prevent the modification of this agreement?

    If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Canadian shipping regulations, I would reply that in our view South Africa's consent is no longer necessary to the variation of the agreement.

    Then is it the case that we can expect a modification of this agreement to go through, and as that is of consequence to this country, what consultations has the hon. and gallant Gentleman had with the Canadian Government and what representation did he make to them?


    Great Central Line


    asked the Minister of Transport when, and for what purposes, he approved the cost of major works on the Great Central line between Woodford Halse and Rugby at a cost of over £250,000.

    I am informed that no works requiring my approval have been carried out on this section of the Great Central line.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that for years now this stretch of line has been closed on Sundays and when one writes to the various officials concerned to find out why, one receives quite different replies? Is he aware that passengers who use this line are under the impression, and they have great evidence for it, that the work is not necessary and that the line is being closed to try to prove to the public that there are no passengers on it and, therefore, it can be closed altogether? Is he aware that in this holiday period the railway officials have chosen to close the line, causing great inconvenience at this time to the travelling public, for a succession of about ten Sundays, but that the railway workers cannot tell us what is being done? Is it not time that there was an investigation into this matter?

    I am informed that the line has two tracks and that the work being carried out is for maintenance and is not a major operation. When a ballast train is occupying one track it is necessary to close the line and substitute a bus service. I am informed that Sunday closing is now less frequent.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no evidence that any work is being done at all on the line? Is he aware that the line is closed so frequently that the track could have been taken up and put down again a dozen times?

    The Commission has spent about £200,000 in the last four years in maintenance work.

    Psychiatric Social Workers


    asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to the recent resolution of the Association of Education Committees urging the implementation of the recommendations of the Underwood Committee in 1955 concerning the training of an adequate number of persons for work as educational psychologists and psychiatric social workers; and if he will ensure that immediate action is taken by the several appropriate Government departments to provide adequate training facilities and financial inducements for recruits.

    I have been asked to reply. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]

    My right hon. Friends are anxious to increase the supply of qualified child guidance staff and have the questions of training facilities and financial assistance under constant review. A new university course for educational psychologists is expected to start this autumn. Two further university courses for psychiatric social workers have been provided during the last year.

    Salaries for these workers in the National Health Service were increased from 1st November, 1959, and a claim for a further increase is being considered by the appropriate Whitley Council.

    Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that this has been under consideration for at least six years, and many more years before that? Can he not, for example, undertake to release on full salary suitable people in the Government service and the local government service so that suitable people can be put into courses without money being paid?

    Yes, Sir; we will consider this and any other proposal made to my right hon. Friends.