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Written Answers

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 27 March 1962

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 27th March, 1962

Post Office

Christmas Mail

1.

asked the Postmaster-General if, for the future, he will give priority in the weeks before Christmas to business and other mail paying the full rate.

With the enormous amount of mail to be dealt with at Christmas-time, it would be impracticable to separate all fully paid mail from the rest and give it priority at all stages. But we shall continue, wherever practicable, to give preference to fully paid business mail at this time.

Registered Letters (Complaints)

4.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will state the average length of time it takes to investigate a complaint for the nondelivery of a registered letter.

Information which would enable us to give a precise reply to this Question could not be obtained without disproportionate expense: but sample inquiries which we have had made indicate that the average time is of the order of three weeks. Our aim is to settle these matters as quickly as possible and, if my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind any instance in which he thinks there has been undue delay, my right hon. Friend will gladly have inquiries made.

Sub-Offices, Warrington

24 and 25.

asked the Postmaster-General (1) for what reasons he authorised the establishment of a sub-post-office in Folley Lane, Warrington, which was situate further from the Dallam Estate than the sub-post-office which it replaced, and is within a distance of 700 yards from its neighbouring sub-office;(2) on what grounds he has ratified the refusal of the Head Postmaster of Warrington to establish a sub-post-office in the Dallam Estate there; and if he will now reconsider his decision in the light of the representations made to him by the local authority.

As I told the hon. Member in reply to his Questions on 13th March, we do not apply our standards rigidly where special circumstances obtain; and, as regards Folly Lane, our decision meant that local residents were not deprived of facilities they had had for many years. My right hon. Friend has not ratified any decision about a sub-office for the Dallam Estate: he is looking into the case for an office in that area and will write to the hon. Member as soon as he can.

Telephone Service

High Wycombe Exchange

5.

asked the Postmaster-General why the installation of the High Wycombe automatic exchange is to be postponed from 1964 to 1966.

When the previous plans had reached an advanced stage, they had to be changed to cater for a much greater increase in the pace of telephone development in the area than had been expected. This has meant a complete replanning and consequent deferment of the new exchange, which we had intended to have ready in 1964. My right hon. Friend now hopes that building will start next September. We much regret this delay, but in the meantime we will be making further enlargements of the manual exchange to the maximum extent possible.

Wireless And Television

Independent Television (Films)

7.

asked the Postmaster-General if, in view of the unreasonable proportion of non-British Films being shown on independent television, he will take steps to ensure that the same minimum proportion of British films are shown on television circuits as are legally requisite in cinemas.

No. Section 3 (1) (d) of the Television Act already places upon the I.T.A. the duty to satisfy themselves that, so far as possible, proper proportions of the recorded and other matter included in the programmes are of British origin and British performance. The I.T.A. watch this closely. I have enquired as to the proportion of British cinematograph films shown on independent television during the last month: the proportion is more than three-quarters.

National Finance

University Students

41.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in HANSARD the latest figures on the numbers and proportions of university students in the last 10 years whose courses

(1)(2)Number leaving without success for
(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)
Year Number of StudentsAcademic Reasons Disciplinary ReasonsOther ReasonsTotalPercentage of Column (6) to Column (2)
195215,2561,688198072,52416·7
195518,2391,804306882,52213·9
195721,7932,584*125133,10914·3
* On this occasion, but not on previous occasions, universities were asked to include in this column students who withdrew voluntarily for academic reasons.

46.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the grounds on which he has set 150,000 as the target number of students, to the achieving of which in the next five years he wishes the additional funds for the universities to be applied as far as possible.

This target has been set in order to provide the greatest practicable opportunities for the very large age-groups which will be reaching university age in 1966–7. The number of 150,000 will provide university places for as high a proportion of the age-groups at the peak of the "bulge" as are available for the corresponding smaller age-groups now.

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what comparative statistics he has obtained through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation relating to the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and France, respectively, showing the total number of university students and the number per 1,000 of have been prematurely terminated or who failed to get degrees, distinguishing where possible, the figures for Oxford and Cambridge and stating separately the figures for students awarded open scholarships.

The University Grants Committee have collected figures in respect of all universities on three occasions in recent years showing the progress of students after four years in arts, pure science, and technology. The results of these surveys are being circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I have no figures for other studies, for separate universities, or for holders of open scholarships.population, the total expenditure annually on university education and the ratio of such expenditure to gross national production, for the years 1950 and 1960 and the estimates for 1970.

None. The collection and evaluation of statistics, including those published in U.N.E.S.C.O., on which such comparative studies as are possible can be based is, I understand, being pursued by the Robbins Committee on Higher Education,

University Staff

42.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the latest figure for full-time university staff, and the number estimated to be required in 1966–67.

Fourteen thousand one hundred in June, 1961, as against 11,410 at the beginning of the present Quinquennium in 1957. Staff required in 1966–67 will depend on a number of factors, such as the distribution of students between faculties which have widely differing staffing needs. Given the expansion which the Government wish to see and existing staff-student ratios, I would expect the number to be between 19,500 and 20,000.

Iran

43.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Her Majesty's Government will participate in the proposed international consortium to help finance Iran's third five-year economic development plan; and whether he will make a statement.

I understand that the International Bank is at present studying the Iranian development plan but that no decision has yet been reached about the formation of an international consortium under its auspices. If such a consortium is formed we shall be prepared to consider whether our financial circumstances at the time permit us to help.

Members' Salaries

45.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what salary

ItemPeriod coveredRise(+) or fall (-) per cent.Remarks
FromTo
Weekly wage ratesJuly, 1961February, 1962+ 1¾Estimates of the total amount paid in wages are only available annually.
Company profits2nd Quarter, 19613rd Quarter, 1961- 3½Seasonally adjusted.
Purchasing power of £ sterling.18th July, 196113th February, 1962- 2½Based on the retail price index.
Retail price index18th July, 196113th February, 1962+ 2½
Value of importsMay-July, 1961December, 1961–February, 1962No changeBased on averages of the seasonally adjusted figures for the months shown.
Value of exportsMay-July, 1961December, 1961–February, 1962- 1
Terms of tradeJuly, 1961February, 1962- 1A fall is favourable to the United Kingdom.
EmploymentJuly, 1961January, 1962- ½
Unemployment (wholly unemployed, excluding school leavers).10th July, 196112th March, 1962+67The normal seasonal change accounts for more than half of this increase.
Central Government expenditure.2nd Quarter, 19613rd Quarter, 1962+ 2½Total current expenditure, including National Insurance benefits and other transfer payments.
NOTE: Figures for the 4th Quarter of 1961 for company profits and for Government expenditure will not be available until early in April. Estimates of income from rent and of dividend payments are only available annually. Some indication of the change in dividends, however, can be deduced from the accounts of public companies. Those companies which published their accounts in the period January to July, 1961, showed increases of about 12½ per cent. in ordinary dividends, compared with the previous year but for company accounts published from August to December, 1961. the increase was less than 5 per cent.

today would have the equivalent purchasing power of the salaries paid to Members of Parliament in 1912.

Incomes And Prices

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he will publish in HANSARD a table of figures giving the percentage rise or fall, since the introduction of the Government's wage pause policy, in the following, namely, rents, wages, dividends, profits, cost of diving, purchasing value of the £ sterling, retail price index, imports, exports, terms of trade, employment and unemployment and Government expenditure.

It is not possible to make these comparisons over identical periods for all the items mentioned in the Question, but I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT, a table giving such information as is available.

Cigarettes

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will introduce legislation to require cigarette manufacturers to subscribe 10 per cent. of the money spent on advertising cigarettes to research into discovering a cure for cancer or a method of making cancer-free cigarettes.

I would prefer to await the outcome of the consideration which the Government are at present giving to the recommendations of the recent Report by the Royal College of Physicians.

Post-War Credits

51.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will reduce the period of continuous unemployment at present required for eligibility for repayment of post-war credits to ameliorate the conditions of the elderly worker in areas of heavy redundancy.

I am afraid that for the present I can only take note of the hon. Member's suggestion.

Telecommunications Officers (Salary Claim)

54.

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, what action he proposes to take in the two-year-old salary claim of the telecommunications technical officers.

I received a deputation from the Institution of Professional Civil Servants in connection with this claim on Tuesday, 20th March. I told them that the Treasury were not yet in a position to give an answer to their claim, but would do so within four weeks.

Civil Service (Pensions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total amount of Civil Service pensions paid in the financial year 1960–61; and what would have been the additional cost if such pensions had been brought up to the level of pensions at January, 1962.

£44·6 million and £18·5 million, respectively. To apply this principle to the public services generally and the Armed Forces would cost £70 million in the first year.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the number of Civil Service pensioners in full payment on 1st December, 1961; what was the number of pensions wholly or partly suspended at that date because of the re-employment of the pensioners; and what was the saving on superannuation charges consequent on these suspensions.

At 30th September, 1961, the latest date for which information is readily available, the figures were 177,600; 20,000; and £4,150,000.

Ayr County Council

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what communication he has recently received from the Ayr County Council on the question of borrowing for capital works; and what was the nature of his reply.

The Ayr County Council recently made representations about the current level of interest rates. Their attention has been drawn to the reply which my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary gave to the hon. Members for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) on 8th March on this matter.

Trade And Commerce

Exports To China

57.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why equipment of British design, manufactured in Great Britain by a firm employing 26,000 British workers, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan, is subject to United States export regulations.

The United States Government's Foreign Assets Control Regulations prohibit all exports to China unless specifically authorised. Though the Regulations are drawn in such a way as to apply to all United States controlled companies throughout the world, they are enforceable only within the United States. In these circumstances it is natural that controlling companies in the United States should issue instructions to their overseas companies requiring them to follow a policy designed to avoid any risk of their becoming liable to any penalties under the Regulations. This situation, which has existed for many years, does not impose any serious restrictions on British trade with China. Her Majesty's Government would certainly not wish to take any action that would diminish the attractiveness of this country to American investment.

Middlesbrough

58.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the unemployment position in Middlesbrough; and what steps he is taking to encourage suitable industry to go to the district.

My right hon. Friend is aware that there has been a recent rise in unemployment on Tees-side. But, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour said on 12th March, it should fall again as soon as demand for iron and steel recovers. My right hon. Friend's first obligation in steering new industrial development is, of course, to the areas of high and persistent unemployment, but he would be prepared to consider further development in Middlesbrough by firms which cannot go to such areas.

Japan

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made in the current negotiations for a United Kingdom-Japan trade treaty.

The negotiations continue to make satisfactory progress, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Customs Conventions

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if Her Majesty's Government have ratified and propose to apply the Customs conventions concerning facilities for the importation of goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs or meetings of 8th June, 1961, made by the Customs Co-operation Council in Brussels; and whether he will make a statement;(2) if Her Majesty's Government has accepted the Customs Convention on the temporary importation of professional equipment of 8th June, 1961, made by the Customs Co-operation Council in Brussels; and whether he will make a statement.

Both Conventions were signed in Brussels on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on 27th February. We expect to deposit instruments of ratification later in the year. The Conventions, which will be published as Command Papers in the near future, enter into force three months after five States have ratified them.

Educational And Cultural Materials (Import)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the decision to facilitate the free temporary import of educational, scientific and cultural materials is wholly confined to such as are approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; and whether he will make a statement.

No. Articles covered by the international Agreement on the Importation of Educational and Cultural materials are admitted under a number of general provisions which apply to eligible goods of any origin whether for temporary or permanent import. These provisions are complicated; I am therefore writing to the hon. Member to give him the details.

Company Registrations

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the number of new companies registered in the City of London each year from 1952 to 1961.

Company registrations are not recorded on a locality basis and the information asked for is not therefore available.

Science

Meat Research Centre

60.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what progress towards establishing a meat research centre was made in the recent discussions which the Agricultural Research Council held with representatives of cattle breeders, producers and meat marketing organisations.

The proposals of the Agricultural Research Council for the establishment of a meat research organisation were explained to representatives of farmers and the meat trade at a meeting on 19th March and were welcomed by those present. The method of financing the organisation was discussed and my noble Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said that the necessary arrangements would be made for the collection of a levy from the industry as a contribution towards the cost.

Local Government

Local Authority Debt

63.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what was the net increase in local authority debt for the years 1959, 1960 and 1961.

The figures are given below. Comparable figures are not yet available for the increase during 1960–61. The figures for Scotland are the concern of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State.

NET INCREASE IN LOCAL AUTHORITY LOAN DEBT
£ million
Financial YearEngland and Wales*Scotland†Great Britain
1958–59331·751·6383·3
1959–60363·250·7413·3
* Source: "Local Government Financial Statistics, England and Wales"—Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
† Source: "Local Financial Returns (Scotland)" Scottish Home Department.

General Grant (Teachers' Salaries)

64.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what adjustments to the general grant he proposes for the current financial year in consequence of the increase in teachers' salaries.

I would refer my hon. Friend to House of Commons Paper No. 135 of this Session.

Nuclear Warfare

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what are his latest proposals for the dispersal of the civil population in the event of nuclear war.

My right hon. Friend is about to write to local authorities about outline arrangements for a dispersal scheme and I will send the hon. Member a copy of the letter.

Housing

Building Cost

61.

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs if he will give the total inclusive cost of building a 900 square foot standard area council house in 1951, on the basis of the completion of payment of a 100 per cent. loan paid for at the then current interest rate spread over a repayment period of 60 years; and if he will give figures for a similar type house built in 1961 and paid for on the same basis at the 1961 current interest rate.

Taking the rates of interest payable on loans from the Public Works Loan Board at the beginning of 1951 and the end of 1961, the figures would be £2,582 and £7,326, respectively.But, as I explained in reply to the hon. Member on 5th March last, most local authority housing is now financed by borrowing on the open market for much shorter periods than 60 years, and the figure of £7,326 is not in any way representative of the cost of building to local authorities.

Commonwealth Relations

Common Market

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in view of the growing anxiety of the general public over the prospect of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market, if he will issue a White Paper setting out what indications he has received from different members of the Commonwealth regarding the extent to which they are prepared to give Common Market conditions to United Kingdom trade as a compensation for the additional difficulties British traders would have to face in Europe as a consequence of Great Britain not joining the Market.

Sierra Leone

Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when he drew the attention of the Government of Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom's Pensions Increase Act, 1959, in relation to pensions of ex-members of the colonial and Her Majesty's overseas services formerly employed in Sierra Leone; and what was the nature of the reply of the Government of Sierra Leone.

A despatch was addressed to the Governor of Sierra Leone by my noble Friend the then Colonial Secretary on 2nd October. 1959. This did not call for a reply.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Sugar Board (Loss)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the payment to the Sugar Board of £1,095,000 in 1961–62 represents a loss on the transaction by the Sugar Board of that figure, or if unsold stocks of sugar remain.

The figure of £1,095,000 which appears under subhead Q in Class VIII of the Supplementary Estimate for 1961–62 is the estimated loss by the Sugar Board on their purchase and sale of South African sugar, as my agents, in the period 1st January, 1962, to 31st March, 1962, on the basis that all the sugar bought in this period is sold in the same period. Provision is included in the South Africa Bill for this loss to be made good in due course by the Sugar Board out of the surcharge. These transactions arise from the agreement for the purchase of South African sugar which I announced in the House of Commons on 15th November last.

Australian Meat

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will explain the arrangements governing the guaranteed price for Australian meat and for which the additional sum of £158,000 is required in the 1961–62 Supplementary Estimate.

Under the United Kingdom-Australian Meat Agreement. which runs from 1952 to 1967, Britain guarantees minimum prices for all Australian beef and lamb shipped to this country. If the weighted average price realised for beef or lamb over the year as a whole falls below the agreed minimum, the difference is paid to the Australian Government on all the beef or lamb landed during the year. In the year ended October, 1961, a deficiency of 1·07d. per 1b. was incurred on Australian lamb, representing a total of £211,288 on 21,157 tons. This was more than was anticipated when the original estimates were put in.

Zanzibar

Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many ex-members of the Colonial Service or Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service are receiving pensions from the Government of Zanzibar; and how many of these are receiving increases less than those received under the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1959, of the United Kingdom.

I have asked the British Resident for this information and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as I have it.

Hospitals

Nurses (Pay)

asked the Minister of Health what wage rate is paid to nursing staff in the hospital service who work more than 44 hours per week, and to those who work at weekends and over bank holidays, respectively.

Student mental nurses and nursing assistants in psychiatric hospitals receive additional payment at plain time rates for all hours worked in excess of 88 a fortnight. No other additional payments of this kind are made to nursing staff.

Employment

West Bromwich

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the rise in unemployment and short-time working in West Bromwich during the past month; and what steps he proposes to take to provide work for those unable to obtain it.

Between 12th February and 12th March, the number registered as unemployed in West Bromwich fell from 1,187 to 964; short-time working is estimated to have increased only slightly during the past month. My local officers will continue to do all they can to assist those seeking work.

Scotland

Firemen, Lanarkshire

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many full-time firemen in Lanarkshire are still waiting to complete their training course at Gullane; and if he will take steps to reduce the waiting period.

Twenty-one whole-time members of the Lanarkshire Brigade have yet to attend the recruits' course at Gullane. It is expected that they will all attend courses at the school this year.

Barlinnie Prison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many stabbing

Command Headquarters
NorthernSouthernEasternWesternScottishNorthern Ireland
OFFICERS
31st March, 19528910895887430
31st March, 1957829290856423
31st March, 1961789696846521
28th February, 1962769689716025
OTHER RANKS
31st March, 195210213522213613780
31st March, 195712516720714116662
31st March, 196186104170646950
28th February, 19629192148555656

Ministry Of Works

Cost-Plus Contracting

asked the Minister ofWorks to what extent the system ofcost-plus contracting still operates in work for his Department.

My Department's settled policy is to let contracts on a incidents have occurred in Barlinnie Prison since the beginning of the year; and, in view of the concern they have caused, what special precautions he proposes to take to prevent any repetition.

Ten prisoners in Barlinnie Prison have been stabbed or slashed with sharp instruments since the beginning of 1962. Following a recent review by the Governor of the security arrangements within the prison, a number of measures designed to ensure the closer supervision of prisoners have been put into operation.

British Army

Command Headquarters (Strengths)

asked the Secretary of State for War what was the strength in officers and other ranks of headquarters establishments in United Kingdom on the 31st March, 1952, 31st March, 1957; 31st March, 1961, and 31st March, 1962

The following is the information:lump sum basis. There are, however, cases where because of the nature of the work it is necessary to adopt a system of prime cost contracting. When this is done the contract is let on a fixed fee wherever practicable and only in the last resort on a percentage fee. The extent of such work compared with the total value of contracts placed on a lump sum basis is very small.