Thursday, 28 July 2011

A 1961 Hansard trawl, featuring tortoises, 123 traffic wardens and the miracle of price fixing.

First up, plus ca change dept - self-interested quangos:

Captain Kerby  asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he is aware that the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board is using its journal to influence voting in connection with the forthcoming revocation poll; and whether he will take action to prevent this practice;

    (2) whether he is aware that the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board is using moneys compulsorily levied from registered producers to influence voting in favour of the scheme remaining in force; and what action he is taking to stop this practice.

Cries out to heaven for vengeance, or at least legislation, does it not?  But apparently not:

Mr. Soames I am not aware that actions of this kind would be contrary to the Act or the Scheme. Nor is it for me to initiate any action.

That's Arthur 'let's not speak truth unto power, it might upset it' Soames, the chap who decided that he should not make a fuss about Mugabe's thuggery during the 1980 Zim election.  Perhaps a graver crime than the one evidenced above.

And so to an earlier outbreak of doing nothing:

Mr. Longden asked the Lord Privy Seal how the United Kingdom voted on the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1953 urging all members to ratify the Convention on Genocide.

Mr. P. Thomas  The United Kingdom delegate to the United Nations General 97W Assembly abstained on the vote on resolution 795 (VIII) which called on States to accelerate their ratifications of, or accessions to, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The resolution was adopted by fifty votes to none with eight abstentions.
There were doubtless good reasons for this,  but it looks awful. We acceded to it in 1970.

Habeas corpus, so to speak:

Captain Kerby asked the Minister of Health what is the cost to the National Health Service of cadavers imported into the United Kingdom for use in teaching hospitals; how many were imported during 1959 and 1960; and what were their countries of origin.

Mr. Powell Cadavers are not used in teaching hospitals. They are not imported for use in medical schools.

The good captain had a lively and enquiring mind, did he not?  Tomatoes one minute and corpses the next. Meanwhile, what were our trainee sawbones practicing on?

The often vexed issue of public sector pensions:

Mr. G. M. Thomson asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average pension at present being received by women and men teachers, respectively, who retired before 1951; and what are the average pensions being received by men and women teachers who retire in 1961.

Mr. Maclay The average pensions at present of women and men teachers who retired before 1951 are £238 and £347 per annum respectively. These include increases under the Pensions (Increase) Acts of 61.3 per cent. and 47.4 per cent. respectively. The figures for teachers who retired in the year ending 31st March, 1961, are £437 per annum and £608 per annum respectively. These include small increases under the Pensions (Increase) Acts.

So that's where it all went wrong.

Not hearing the call to the colours:

Mr. John Hall asked the Secretary of State for War what measures he is taking to encourage recruiting into those corps which are getting too small a share of recruits in proportion to their needs.
Mr. Profumo In order to improve recruiting in certain corps which are not getting a sufficiently large share of recruits in proportion to their needs, I propose to allow certain men who enlist on a 22-year engagement the option of leaving after four years instead of six. This will apply to the two main trades in the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Army Dental Corps, and to all men in the Royal Military Police and the Army Catering Corps.
Fancy not wanting to be a Redcap.

Price fixing?  It's a good thing.  Apparently:

Mr. Gresham Cooke  asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that after four years of investigation the Monopolies Commission has reported that resale price maintenance does not operate against the public interest so far as the cigarette and tobacco industry is concerned, what steps he proposes to take to ensure that equally comprehensive consideration is given to the merits of resale price maintenance so far as concerns other industries affected by the inquiry which his own Department is making into this subject at the present time.

Mr. Maudling   Resale price maintenance was only one of a large number of matters covered by this investigation. In any case, as my hon. Friend will remember, in the Monopolies Commission's Report an the tobacco industry, as well as the majority view, a minority view was expressed on the effects, as regards public advantage, of resale price maintenance in this industry. When I have before me the results of the Departmental inquiry I shall be able to decide whether any further consideration needs to be given to this problem in respect of other industries.
Maybe further on I'll find a reference to the wonders of beating walnut trees with chains or the  prospect of the use of alchemy to pay off the national debt.

I have warm feelings, generally speaking, towards tortoises, so this is rather sad:

Sir B. Janner (Greville's old man - QG) asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the circumstances in which a large proportion of a consignment of tortoises imported into this country via Newhaven on 19th June arrived in a dead or dying condition; and, in view of this evidence of continuing cruelty, whether he will now consider taking steps to ban or control the importation of tortoises.  
Mr. Maudling   My point is that the powers conferred on me are for use for economic purposes and I do not think that they could be used for other purposes.

Mr. Jeger Is it still intended that these tortoises should be used as the symbol of the Government's economic and financial policy?
The oh so witty Mr Jeger was the Labour MP for Goole and never, it would appear, a regular at the Glasgow Empire. 

Manny Shinwell asks some questions as yet still unsatisfactorily answered:

Mr. Shinwell asked the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the consequences of British entry into the Common Market, with particular reference to an estimate of those countries, apart from the members of the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Association, with which the United Kingdom would be precluded from entering into independent trading relations.

Mr. Maudling   It would not be feasible to make an assessment of this kind in advance; the answer would depend upon such factors as changes in our own competitive power, the future level of the common tariff, and the commercial policy followed by the enlarged European Economic Community.

Mr. Shinwell Is that not a completely evasive reply? If the Government decide to accept the provisions of the Rome Treaty, that would preclude—apart from the E.F.T.A. countries and the Commonwealth countries—the United Kingdom engaging in independent trading relations. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman say that is so?

Mr. Maudling Simply because I thought everyone knew that.

Mr. Shinwell Are we to understand that the Government propose to enter into negotiations with the Six without having considered the consequences of their actions?

And something else from another age:

Mr. Snow asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to intensify Her Majesty's Customs' investigation of the smuggling of watches from Switzerland, in view of the fact that the present ex-works value of watches being smuggled into the United Kingdom amounts to over £5 million with a consequential loss of duty and purchase tax amounting to £3,750,000; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Barber I do not accept the figures mentioned in the Question, but I agree that the smuggling of watches presents a serious problem. The Customs are making every effort, with their available staff, both to detect it and to prevent it.

Has there ever been a substantial watch making industry in these parts?

The arts commissariat runs riot:

Mr. Hannan (no relation....)  asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has now received from the Arts Council their proposals for allocating the recently increased resources by way of grants and contributions for renovating existing theatres and building new ones; and, in particular, what proportion it is proposed to allocate to Scotland.
Sir E. Boyle I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. and learned Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. Jeger) on lath July. As regards the second part of the Question the allocation to Scotland out of resources made available to the Arts Council is a matter for the Council.
But it would breach their yooman rights, wouldn't it:

Mr. H. Hynd asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now state whether he will seek powers to deport Commonwealth immigrants who become criminals.

Mr. R. A. Butler I have no further statement to make on this subject at present
One for anyone who has ever received a parking ticket:

Mr. Callaghan asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present establishment and strength of traffic wardens in London; how many have resigned since the inception of the scheme; and what reasons they gave.
Mr. R. A. Butler  There is no formal establishment for traffic wardens in the Metropolitan Police District, but the Commissioner of Police would like to recruit substantially more than the 123 who are now in post. Of the 174 wardens who have been appointed since July, 1960, three have had their services terminated and 50 have resigned. Of the 50, two have since rejoined.

Of the wardens who resigned and did not rejoin, 18 left to go to other jobs, 12 gave domestic reasons (inability to find suitable accommodation, moving to another area, travelling difficulties), 10 said that the pay was inadequate, three left for health reasons, and three because of abuse from motorists. Two did not finish their training.
I do not doubt that traffic wardens are thicker skinned these days.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe further on I'll find a reference to the wonders of beating walnut trees with chains or the prospect of the use of alchemy to pay off the national debt.

    Sincerely hope you do. Think you have that one well covered, QG.