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Written Answers

Volume 654: debated on Monday 19 February 1962

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 19th February, 1962

Pensions And National Insurance

Personal Case

1 and 2.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) when an applicant from Chadderton, whose name has been furnished to him, made an application for a pension on the ground of silicosis; when he was examined; by whom he was examined; and for what reason the pension was refused;(2) whether he is aware that an applicant from Chadderton, whose name has been furnished to him, whose application had been three times refused by the silicosis board died on 4th January, 1962, of silicosis of at least five years' standing; and what posthumous compensation he proposes to make to the relatives of this man.

The applicant in question made seven claims for disablement benefit for pneumoconiosis between 1955 and 1959 and on six occasions was radio-logically and clinically examined by Pneumoconiosis Medical Boards. On consideration of all the evidence available in life, the boards decided that the applicant was not suffering from pneumoconiosis and the claims were disallowed. Although the pathologist found death was due to bronchopneumonia, the panel doctors, after examining the lung specimens, agreed with the pathologist's finding that pneumoconiosis was a contributory factor. This new evidence which was necessarily available only after death has enabled the Pneumoconiosis Medical Board to review the earlier decisions on diagnosis and it has now been decided that the deceased was suffering from pneumoconiosis from 1st January, 1955. The arrears of disablement benefit have been paid to the widow, who will also be receiving an award of industrial death benefit. I understand that the widow has since appealed to the Medical Appeal Tribunal against the disablement benefit assessment made by this last Pneumoconiosis Medical Board.

Late Claims

3.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will introduce legislation to give adjudicating authorities discretionary power to award pensions for the full period of entitlement in cases where claims have been lodged late.

The present Regulations allow up to six months arrears where the statutory authorities who decide the claim accept good cause for delay in making it. I have no proposals for amendment of the Regulations.

National Assistance

6.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what estimate he has made of the sum that would be required to be added to the allowance payable to a married couple wholly dependent on National Assistance to restore that sum to the value it had when the present scale was introduced.

On the basis of the Index of Retail Prices, the sum required in December, 1961, to give the same value as the current National Assistance scale rate of 90s. for a married couple had when it came into force in April last, was 93s., plus in both cases allowance for rent and rates.

16.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what increase there has been in Scotland in the number of retirement pensioners receiving supplement from the National Assistance Board since 8th April, 1961.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what increase there has been in the number of old people receiving supplementary benefit from the National Assistance Board since 31st January, 1961.

None. Precise figures are not available for the end of January, but on 19th December, 1961, the number, including supplements to non-contributory old-age pensions, was 12,000 smaller than in December, 1960.

Retirement Pension

7.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what estimate he has made of the sum required to be added to the present retirement pension paid in respect of a married couple in order to raise that sum to the value it had on the dates when the present rate was first announced, and when it became payable, respectively.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he will indicate the estimated loss in purchasing power of the old-age retirement pension since the date of the last increase.

On the basis of the retail prices index, 1s. l1d. for a single person and 3s. 1d. for a married couple.

Welfare Foods, Scotland

15.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, what was the cost to the National Assistance Board of payments in respect of welfare foods in Scotland for the six months ending 31st December, 1961; and what was the administrative cost of this work.

The National Assistance Board does not, of course, make payments in respect of welfare foods; it issues, in appropriate cases, tokens enabling the recipient to get a free supply. It is estimated that the administrative cost of this work in Scotland is at present about £14,000 a year.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will state, for the 12-week period starting 1st September, 1961, the number of persons receiving assistance in Ayrshire towards the cost of welfare food; how many of these were in receipt of weekly allowances from the National Assistance Board; and what amounts of these foods were involved.

As regards the first two parts of the Question, I regret that up-to-date information about the number and circumstances of beneficiaries is not available for particular localities. As regards the third part of the Question, the three offices of the National Assistance Board which serve an area approximating to Ayrshire issued, during the twelve weeks to 19th December last, tokens giving entitlement to a free supply of 184,800 pints of milk, 3,000 bottles of orange juice, 1,700 bottles of cod liver oil and 60 packets of vitamin tablets.

Widowed Mothers (National Assistance)

18.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many widowed mothers are in receipt of National Assistance supplements; and how this number compares with those receiving such supplements in the first week of May, 1961.

The latest figure available relates to December, 1960. It was then estimated to be 24,600.

Prescription Charges

19.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will state the cost of the remission of prescription charges by the National Assistance Board from the inception of the new charges till the latest available date, and the figure for the same period in the previous year.

Up to the end of November, 1961, the amount paid by the National Assistance Board for refunds of prescription charges was £1,741,000. The figure for the comparable period of 1960 was £799,000.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many claims for refund of National Health prescription charges were admitted, and what was the total amount repaid, by his Kirkcaldy office for the period from 1st April, 1961, to the latest convenient date, and for the corresponding period from 1st April, 1960.

During the period April, 1960, to January, 1961, 173 claims for repayment of prescription charges, amounting in all to £45 were paid by the Kirkcaldy office of the National Assistance Board. For the period April, 1961, to January, 1962, the corresponding figures were 842 claims totalling £280. These figures relate, as requested in the hon. Member's Question, to payments made at the Board's office. They do not, therefore, include those made at post offices in accordance with the normal practice in the case of people holding National Assistance order-books. Figures for such payments are not available on a local basis.

Graduated Insurance Scheme

20.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many persons have now contracted out of the graduated insurance scheme.

Earnings Limit

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what ratio the current earnings limit for pensioners and widows bears to average earnings; and what that ratio was when the present limit was fixed.

For men, 22·8 per cent. and 24·8 per cent., respectively for women, 45·3 per cent. and 48·3 per cent. in the case of retirement and widow pensioners, and 64·7 per cent. and 69·0 per cent. for widowed mothers.

Hospitals

Beds

47.

asked the Minister of Health what was the total number of staffed hospital beds per 1,000 of the population in 1960 stated separately for England and Wales, the Sheffield region and the Nottingham area, respectively; and what are the estimated proportions for 1975.

Hospital Building, Nottingham

48.

asked the Minister of Health what is the total estimated cost of hospital schemes expected to start in the Nottingham area of the Sheffield region in the years 1961 to 1971; and what this cost represents per head of the estimated 1975 population.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead

49.

asked the Minister of Health if he will now state the date when work on the out-patients department, the first phase of the diagnostic centre at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, is expected to commence.

Hospital Staff, Cardiff (Meals)

51.

asked the Minister of Health what deductions from wages are made for food taken at hospitals in Cardiff by doctors, nurses and domestic staff, respectively; how these deductions compare with those made in other regions; and whether he will make a statement on his policy with regard to such deductions.

All these deductions are fixed by National Whitley agreement, except that charges for non-resident doctors' meals are fixed locally. I have no detailed information about these.

Ministry Of Health

Free Milk Scheme

50.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to encourage the consumption of free milk by children between attaining the age of five years and the beginning of school attendance.

Welfare milk is available up to five years and one month. I have no proposals for extending the scheme.

General Practitioners, Middlesex (Assistants)

52.

asked the Minister of Health how many principals in general practice in Middlesex have employed assistants for more than three years; and when the next review by the local executive council is expected to take place.

Doctors' And Dentists' Remuneration (Review Body)

53.

asked the Minister of Health what are the number of grades of administrative staff he proposes to put at the disposal of Lord Kindersley's review body.

Staff will not be from my Department; I understand that details are not yet settled.

Prescriptions, Gateshead

asked the Minister of Health if he will give the number of prescriptions dispensed under the National Health Service in Gateshead in the period of March-August, 1961, inclusive, and the number prescribed in the like period in 1960, together with the percentage decrease or increase.

219,478 and 262,598 prescriptions dispensed, a decrease of 16·4 per cent.

Nurses (Pay Claim)

asked the Minister of Health whether a decision has yet been reached on the nurses' pay claim submitted to the Nurses' and Midwives' Whitley Council more than six months ago; and what is the reason for the delay.

No; I understand the claim is still under negotiation.

NUMBER OF PERSONS REGISTERED AS UNEMPLOYED AT EMPLOYMENT EXCHANGES AND YOUTH EMPLOYMENT OFFICES IN THE PONTARDAWE AND LLWCHWR DISTRICTS OF THE GOWER CONSTITUENCY AT 11TH DECEMBER, 1961*
MalesFemales
TotalRegistered over 26 weeksTotalRegistered over 26 weeks
Pontardawe District
Pontardawe Employment Exchange and Youth Employment Office71185014
Ystalyfera Employment Exchange80204924
Morriston Employment Exchange†313648221
Llwchwr District
Pontardulais Employment Exchange41114512
Gorseinon Employment Exchange and Youth Employment Office22044779
TOTAL72515730380
*The latest date on which unemployment was analysed by duration.
†(This is the parent office for Clydach Part-time Office which is within the constituency. Separate figures are not available for Clydach.

Employment

Boys And Girls, Tees-Side

58.

asked the Minister of Labour how many boys and girls, respectively, were registered as unemployed at 31st December, 1961, in the Tees-side area; how many boys and girls left school at the Christmas term; how many of these have found employment; and what are the numbers of boys and girls currently registered as unemployed.

No figure is available for 31st December, 1961, but on 15th January, 1962, 640 boys and 286 girls were unemployed. 1,093 boys and 1,084 girls left school at Christmas; of these 167 boys and 62 girls registered for work on 12th February, 1962.

Pontardawe And Llwchwr

59.

asked the Minister of Labour how many males and females, respectively, were on the books of the employment exchanges in the Pontardawe and Llwchwr districts of the Gower constituency at the last available date; and how many of each group have been unemployed for a period of six months or more.

Dock Workers

asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the average number of registered dock workers for whom no work has been available since 1st January, 1962, for the country as a whole and separately for each of the ports at which the National Dock Labour Board operates.

The following information has been supplied by the National Dock Labour Board:

AVERAGE NUMBER OF REGISTERED DOCK WORKERS FOR WHOM NO WORK WAS AVAILABLE DURING THE PERIOD 1ST JANUARY, 1962 TO 10TH FEBRUARY, 1962.
NumberPercentage of Register
All Ports7,22510·6
Tyne and Wear38225·8
Middlesbrough and Hartlepool15011·8
Hull and Goole62613·1
Grimsby and Immingham37119·7
Wash Ports12422·6
East Anglia1910·6
London2,7229·9
Medway and Swale4411·6
South Coast36317·2
Plymouth2921·3
Cornwall3315·9
Bristol and Severn974·7
South Wales48020·5
Liverpool8125·8
Garston11616·6
Manchester1194·6
Preston317·5
Fleetwood3714·2
Barrow2432·4
Cumberland5845·0
Ayrshire5332·9
Greenock8732·0
Glasgow1888·3
Barton6813·0
East Scotland19211·3

Earnings

asked the Minister of Labour what has been the rise in earnings from the third quarter of 1960 to the third quarter of 1961.

The average weekly earnings of manual workers employed in the United Kingdom in the industries covered by the Ministry's half-yearly inquiries rose by nearly 5½ per cent. between October, 1960, and October, 1961. The average hourly earnings rose by 7 per cent.

Katanga

60.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, having regard to the recruitment of mercenaries to fly central Congolese aircraft and the atrocities committed in parts of Katanga whence the gendarmerie was forced to withdraw by United Nations and central Congolese forces, Her Majesty's Government will urgently press the United Nations Security Council to remove any hindrance to the enlistment by the Katanga Government of such foreign advisers as it may need to strengthen its security forces and to facilitate their movement and operations for the preservation of law and order throughout Katanga.

No. Mr. Tshombe himself has said that he is getting rid of all foreign officers in his gendarmerie since he has no need of such persons.

Berlin Air Corridors

61.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the protests delivered by Her Majesty's Government to the Soviet Government on the recent activities of Soviet fighter aircraft in the air corridors to Berlin.

The British Ambassador in Moscow delivered an Aide-Memoire to the Soviet Government on the 15th of February protesting against Soviet violations of the established procedures for flight safety in the Berlin air corridors. I am arranging for a copy of the Aide-Memoire to be placed in the Library of the House.Her Majesty's Government take a most serious view of current Soviet activities in the corridors, which could easily lead to incidents. The corridors are for the unrestricted use of the four Powers, subject to the long-established procedures for flight safety, and no one Power has the right to arrogate to itself the exclusive right to certain flight levels for a long period of time as the Soviet Union is attempting to do. We and our American and French allies will continue to exercise our legitimate rights to fly in the corridors according to the rules that have long been agreed between ourselves and the Soviet Union.

Congo (United Nations Funds)

asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the extent of borrowing from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund for the United Nations operations in the Congo; what was the procedure adopted; and when and under what conditions repayment will be made.

As my hon. Friend explained in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) on 18th December, there has been no borrowing direct from the Children's Fund; during 1961, however, a governmental voluntary contribution to the Children's Fund of $10 million was made available for advance to the Secretary-General on the basis that it could, pending U.N.I.C.E.F.'s need for it, be used for other United Nations purposes; but it would be impossible to identify this money as having been used specifically to finance Congo operations.The Secretary-General was acting quite properly and within his own responsibilities under the authority granted him by a Resolution of the General Assembly (A/RES/1586(XV), paragraph 5).The $10 million was paid back from the General Fund to the Children's Fund on 27th December, 1961.

East Germany

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will state Her Majesty's Government's policy regarding contacts between this country and East Germany, with particular reference to visits to such events as the Leipzig Fair by persons in this country.

At the present time contacts with East Germany can be used to give the impression, wrongly, that this country condones the continuing illegal and inhuman stoppage of free movement in Berlin by the East German régime as well as the continued Communist threat to the freedom and security of West Berlin. Therefore, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, persons in this country should take into consideration this risk of misrepresentation, in relation to their own standing, before engaging in contacts with, or visits to, East Germany, both generally and, in particular, for such events as the Leipzig Fair.As regards the Leipzig Fair, experience has shown that it is used to win support for the claims of the East German régime to international recognition. The Fair provides an opportunity for inviting visitors from abroad, who very often have no direct commercial interest in it. Whether they have such an interest or not, the East German authorities try to ensure that their presence at the Fair is widely exploited and that they return home with a false impression of conditions in East Germany and of the political support enjoyed by the régime.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

River Hull

62.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the number of wharves on the River Hull which were reported to his Department and the Hull and East Yorkshire River Board as being below flood level after the serious flooding in March, 1961, and which have not yet been raised to flood prevention level.

Of the sixty-four wharves which were below the levels prescribed by the Kingston-upon-Hull Corporation Act, 1925, work has been completed on thirty-three and is in progress on fourteen. Work has not yet started on seventeen wharves and the Corporation is taking this up with the wharf owners concerned.

Royal Navy

Polaris Base, Holy Loch

64.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what has been the total expenditure incurred in connection with the Polaris submarine base at Holy Loch up to the end of January, 1962; and how much has been repaid by the United States Government.

The expenditure incurred is estimated at £393,000 In a project where goods, facilities, manpower and capital expenditure are involved, evaluation and accountancy take time in both countries. Claims for £258,650 have been presented to the United States Government who have so far repaid £220,097.

Holy Loch (Pier)

65.

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty how much expenditure has been incurred in acquiring the pier at Holy Loch.

Post Office

Engineers (Working Instructions)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will place in the Library of the House a copy of the rules to which members of the Post Office Engineering Union are now working.

Because of the wide diversity of the work the complete engineering instructions are extremely voluminous and I doubt whether it would be useful to do as my hon. Friend asks. But I will gladly give my hon. Friend information about any of the rules he may have in mind.

Science

Space Research (Expenditure)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science how much has been spent in the United Kingdom for each year since 1955 on space research and on the development of space launchers; how such expenditure has been divided between civil and military use; and how has it been divided between funds from public sources and funds from private sources.

Government expenditure on space research built up gradually from 1955 to 1959 but details are not readily available. Expenditure during those years included provision for sounding rocket experiments in connection with the International Geophysical Year and on observation and tracking of artificial earth satellites.Following the decision of Her Majesty's Government in 1959 to embark on a programme of experimental research using satellites, Government expenditure directly attributable to space research, excluding capital expenditure, rose to nearly £300,000 in 1960–61. It has been estimated that it will amount to about £550,000 in 1961–62.Government expenditure on Blue Streak as a satellite launcher began after the military requirement ended. It amounted to £2·6 million in 1960–61 and will be some £3·5 million in 1961–62 (up to the end of January).All the above figures relate to expenditure for civil purposes. In addition there has been since 1955 expenditure, mainly on military account, for which my noble Friend is not responsible but which has provided backing for the activities for which I have just given figures.No information is available about relevant expenditure from private funds.

Scotland

Local Authority Contracts (Paint)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he takes, in cases involving his responsibilities in relation to local authorities, where an authority requires paint used by its contractors or works department to be of Scottish manufacture.

I appreciate the natural wish of authorities to foster Scottish industries, and I am always glad to see Scottish products succeed in competition with others on quality and price. I have not felt justified in withholding any statutory approval or loan sanction because the practice to which my hon. Friend refers has been adopted but I do not regard this practice as either desirable in itself or in the best long-term interests of Scottish manufacturers.

Uncertificated Teachers, Fife

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many uncertificated teachers are employed in Fife; and, of these, how many are over 60 years of age;(2) in which Fife schools uncertificated teachers, who are considered below standard, are employed;(3) what is the number of staff in each school in Fife where uncertificated teachers are employed.

On 2nd October, 1961, the latest date for which figures are available, 242 uncertificated teachers were employed by Fife Education Authority, 17 of them over 60 years of age. I am sending to the hon. Member details of the schools employing uncertificated teachers.

School Attendance (Enrolment Dates)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish the names of local education authorities which operate more than two commencing dates in the year for the enrolment of infant children, and the actual dates fixed for these intakes.

My information about the education authorities which have three or more fixed dates for commencing school attendance is as follows:

Education AuthorityDates
City:
EdinburghA variable date in March or April, 1st August and 1st September.
Counties:
Argyll1st January, 1st April, 1st September and 1st November.
Ayr1st February, 1st April and 1st September.
East Lothian1st January, 1st April, 1st August and 1st September.
Inverness1st January, 15th April and 15th August.
Kincardine (excluding Stonehaven, which has two dates only).1st January, 1st April, 1st June and 15th August.
Orkney1st January, 1st April and 1st August.
Peebles1st January, 1st April and 15th August.
Perth and Kinross1st January, 1st April and 1st September.
Ross and Cromarty1st January, 1st April and 1st September.
West Lothian1st January, 15th April and 1st September.
Zetland (excluding the island of Whalsay, which has two dates only).1st January, 1st April and 1st August.

Valuation Authorities (Counsel)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish details showing the names of each valuation authority employing Queen's Counsel, and the cost in each case.

I have no information on this subject as the question whether or not counsel should be retained in connection with valuation appeals is entirely a matter for local decision.

Trade And Commerce

Export Credits (Long-Term Contracts)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now take action to increase the percentage of Export Credits Guarantee Department cover in the case of longer-term contracts.

Yes. We are now prepared to raise the percentage of cover to 100 per cent. in respect of certain contracts involving credit terms of three years or more once they have run trouble-free for two years from completion of the order. This will be known as the Full Percentage Facility. E.C.G.D. is issuing details this afternoon, and I am arranging for copies of its announcement to be placed in the Library of the House.

Roads

London-Yorkshire Motorway

asked the Minister of Transport what is the terminal point of the section of the London-Yorkshire motorway extension for which it is hoped to let contracts this summer.

I hope to let contracts this summer for lengths of the London-Yorkshire motorway between Crick in Northamptonshire and Markfield in Leicestershire. Detailed progress will, however, depend upon the completion of the remaining statutory processes and engineering preparation. I cannot, therefore, be more specific at this stage about the sections to be undertaken. For the same reason, I cannot at present usefully indicate the timetable for any further lengths of this motorway.

Classified Road Programme

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement about the classified road programme for 1964–65.